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Spiced Chickpea Soup


The fragrant flavors of ground cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon make this soup soothing and warming. Half the soup is puréed and half is left chunky for the best of both textures.


  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf cilantro


1. Put the chickpeas in a 2-to 3-quart saucepan (or the pot you will cook the soup in), and add water to cover by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let soak for 1 to 2 hours. Drain and rinse.

2. In a large pot, combine the chickpeas, bay leaf, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the chickpeas are almost tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the chickpeas and simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the salt.

4. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the puree back into the soup pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to thin the soup. Add the lemon juice and more salt, if desired. Stir in the parsley and ladle into serving bowls.

Recipes Notes

• Soaking chickpeas and other legumes and beans before cooking reduces the cooking time and helps to break down the indigestible complex sugars found in them.
• Before you soak the dried chickpeas, spread them on a plate or in a baking pan and sort through them, discarding any that are split, broken, or shriveled. Also remove any pebbles you find. Thoroughly rinse them under cold running water. The chickpeas are then ready to be soaked.
• Never add salt to chickpeas while they are cooking. Salt will toughen the seed coat and prevent absorption of the water.
• Canned chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a great staple to keep on hand because they are convenient and allow you to cook up a quick, nutritious meal. But their texture is much softer than home-cooked beans, so they will not work well as a substitute in this soup.
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