For an easy, rustic dinner, I look forward to this burnished red soup. It humbly relies on spices for deep flavors. No meat, just good technique.
What I like to do is sit with a steaming hot bowl of this savory tomato soup with a big chunk of bread, which I usually tear by hand and slather with butter.
This rustic chickpea tomato soup originated like many of my recipes when I was living and teaching cooking classes in New York. This class was all about how people can cook for one day and eat for five.
Canned Tomatoes for Tomato Soup
This soup made it on the menu because it reheats well for a convenient supper. For whatever reason, we were always given canned tomato puree instead of “tomato sauce.” We did our best to thin it out with lots of water, but it wasn’t the same. So, be certain to look at the tomato can label for the word “sauce”.
Actually, my favorite part was watching people experience the first step. Toasting the spices. This is a novelty for most people, who stare closely at the spices wondering what to look for.
I always enjoy using the palm of my hand to move the air towards my nose. Spices will release a toasty aroma when they are ready.
Everybody likes this vegetarian, gluten free recipe. Funny thing about working with spices, you will always find people who say it’s too spicy and people who like it as-is. I’ve been told by about 20 people this recipe has the “right” amount of heat and by about 10 that it’s too spicy. If you’re at all concerned about the heat factor, you can skip the cayenne pepper. Taste, and always mute the intensity by adding more coconut milk.
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Rustic Chickpea Tomato Soup
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander, toasted
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons ghee, or coconut oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne, optional
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- 1 15- oz can tomato sauce, do not use tomato puree
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup canned coconut milk, stir then measure
- 3 15.5 oz canned chickpeas, drained
- 10 oz baby spinach
- 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- Salt, to taste
- ¼ cup cilantro, minced (garnish)
Soup Base: Layering the Flavors
- Toast the whole cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet until very fragrant over medium low heat, 7 minutes. Grind in a spice grinder.
- In a soup pot (I like to use a dutch oven) warm the ghee over low medium heat and sweat the onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent browning.
- Stir in the garlic cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add toasted spices and all powdered spices — salt, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, and curry powder. Stir to coat the onions, cook for 2 minutes.
Marrying the Liquids with the Chickpeas
- Add the tomato sauce and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable stock, coconut milk, and canned/cooked chickpeas. Raise heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and celery and cook just until wilted, 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat and adjust seasoning with salt. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
If you liked this recipe, you’ll really enjoy another rustic, ethnically inspired stew. It’s a Mexican pozole with hominy and pork. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.