Globally, chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are probably the most commonly eaten bean or legume. They are a main staple in Punjabi (North Indian) cuisine and also play a large role in the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. Although chickpeas were thought to have originated in the Middle East almost 7500 years ago, India remains the top chickpea producer in the world today.
Chickpeas are a wonderful source of both protein and dietary fiber. They also contain large amounts of folate and zinc. Chickpeas are an essential part of most vegetarian and vegan diets. In India, we love chickpeas to the extent that we even have several dessert recipes made with chickpea flour (besan).
My hearty & delicious Chickpea Soup will warm you up completely – body, soul & mind! Best of all, it’s easy to prepare & healthy to boot ☺. In India, the traditional method of preparation calls for using dried chickpeas -- which first need to be soaked overnight and then cooked until tender using a pressure cooker. If you prefer this method, then by all means -- god bless! The simpler way is to just use canned chickpeas, personally I prefer the organic variety but feel free to use your favorite canned chickpeas for this recipe.
HALE & HEARTY CHICKPEA SOUP
1 can of cooked chickpeas (12-15 ounce size), rinsed & drained well
1 onion, finely minced
1 stalk of tender young celery, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled & diced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ ground coriander powder
½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium tomato, finely diced
4 to 4½ cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp oil (vegetable, olive or canola)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a medium size heavy bottom soup pot on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onion along with the celery, carrot, garlic and ginger. Sauté until the onion has softened, then add in the rosemary leaves along with bay leaf & the other spices (red chili powder, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, smoked Spanish paprika, salt & pepper). Mix well & let the spices cook for a minute or so. Next, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste & chickpeas. Let cook for 2-3 minutes & then add in the vegetable stock. Bring to a good boil & let simmer for another couple of minutes.
Now find the bay leaf & remove it. Let the soup cool slightly & then carefully blend the soup mixture to your desired consistency (an immersion blender works well for this task). I like my soup with some texture to it, so I puree it very lightly – basically just to thicken the soup. Finish the soup with some freshly grated nutmeg & garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with croutons or some crusty bread.
Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to this soup, leafy greens such as baby spinach or kale work particularly well in this dish.
Instead of 4 cups of vegetable stock, add 2 cups only + 2 cups coconut milk for a rich creamy soup.
You can also serve the soup with some toasted pita or naan wedges.