Is it winter? spring? warm? cold? Honestly, doesn’t matter. Italian Chickpea Soup is the perfect crossover bowl this time of year. Loaded with veggies in a bright, warm, seasoned broth, it makes a perfect all-season meal or accompaniment. Adjust veggies and garnish as desired to make it your own. Gluten-free and vegetarian, with vegan option.
Consider yourself lucky. It’s not easy to find a traditional Italian recipe that calls for pasta where you can just *poof* make it disappear and still have said recipe be delizioso. Thankfully “Pasta e Ceci” is just as delicious as “Ceci.”
While it may be the “Jan” to Minstrone’s “Marsha” in the States (I blame Campbell’s. I’ve definitely never seen it in the red and white can.), this hearty, chunky veggie-laden soup really only boasts a couple differences that completely change the game. First on deck – chickpeas instead of white (cannellini) beans; second – the addition of leafy greens.
Nutritionally speaking, other than white beans weirdly having 3x as much Vitamin E (see, you did learn something new today), there isn’t a big difference between the two. I love white beans – especially in soup – but I do appreciate the fact that structurally speaking, chickpeas do tend to retain some of their bite. For me, it’s the addition of greens that makes this one of my faves though. Which also makes sense because I also prefer traditional white bean and kale soup to Minestrone.
Honestly, that’s one of the things I appreciate most about Italian cooking. They take all their staple ingredients and then create recipes that best feature combinations of two of those things in starring roles. Cacio e Pepe. Pomodoro e Basillico. Aglio e Olio. Something-Tasty e Something-Else-Tasty-That-Compliments-The-Other-Tasty-Something. I mean sure, I could add kale to Minestrone, but that’s not a thing. You do that, and somewhere in the world, a nonna gets a bad case of agida. Show some respect.
How to Make Chickpea Soup
Full bellies, full hearts? Italian Chickpea Soup delivers on both fronts. Chock full of hearty garbanzos and a medley of other veggies, this gluten-free spin on a classic is loaded with plant-based protein, and works year-round as a main or a side. Don’t skimp on the garnish! (Yes. Crusty bread is a garnish too.)
- Sauté onions, carrots, and celery until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Work tomato paste into the vegetables and cook until color deepens to enhance the flavor.
- Add canned tomatoes, broth, chickpeas, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir, then simmer for at least 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
- Stir in the spinach and cook until it just barely wilts – just a minute or two.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped basil and finely grated parmesan cheese.
- Dice the vegetables to a uniform size of about ½″ each – roughly the size of a chickpea. You’ll get a taste of everything in every bite.
- Garnishes can make or break a soup – be generous!
- Use vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
- Or, use homemade chicken bone broth for richer flavor.
Make it Your Way
- Add more depth – if you have one, add a parmesan cheese rind to the broth. Simmer the soup at least 20 minutes to allow the flavor to infuse the broth. Discard the rind before serving.
- Can’t find crushed tomatoes? Use whole or diced – just put ’em through a quick trip in the blender first.
- OR, use a full 6-oz can of tomato paste and skipped the canned tomatoes completely. You’ll active the same rich, tomato broth with a smoother texture.
- Change up the vegetables – diced zucchini, green beans, yellow squash, and mushrooms are each great additions or substitutions.
- Swap kale for spinach – remove the ribs and coarsely chop the kale; simmer 5 minutes.
- Make it vegan – skip the cheese, or substitute nutritional yeast.
Leftovers and Freezing
- FRIDGE: To store in the fridge, follow standard rules for vegetable soups – it’ll keep 3-4 days in a properly-sealed, airtight container. Avoid storing soup that’s already been garnished – you want those fresh!
- FREEZER: To Freeze, same rules for storing apply (properly-sealed, airtight) and this soup is fine in the freezer for up to 6 months. Do not freeze with garnish.
TIP: If you’re making this recipe to freeze in advance – or you know you’re at least going to freeze one or more portions – shave several minutes off the cooktime (i.e. slightly undercook your veggies) so that they don’t go mushy when you reheat!
More Vegetable Packed Soups
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup
- White Bean and Kale Soup (VIDEO)
- Vegan Stew
- Winter Minestrone Soup
- Cajun Lentil Stew
Did you make this Italian Chickpea Soup? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 vidalia onion, chopped to ½
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced to ½”
- 2 stalks celery, sliced to ½”
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if available
- 2-4 c chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- 2 14-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp italian seasoning
- ½ tsp kosher salt, more to taste
- ½ tsp ground pepper, more to taste
- 2 heaping cups baby spinach
- Fresh basil, torn, for serving
- Finely shredded parmesan cheese, for serving, see notes
- Heat a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers.Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent, 9-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Add the tomato paste and work into the vegetables. Continue cooking until the color deepens, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, 2 cups broth, chickpeas, italian seasoning, and ½ tsp each salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir and bring the liquid to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, then cook 10 minutes to meld the flavors. Cook up to 30 minutes covered. If the soup is too thick or you’d prefer a brothier consistency, add more broth (up to 2 additional cups). I used 2.5 c broth total.
- Stir in the spinach and cook until just barely wilted, 1-2 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with basil and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
- TIP: If you have one, add a parmesan cheese rind to the broth. Simmer the soup at least 20 minutes to allow the flavor to infuse the broth. Discard the rind before serving.
- VEGANS: skip the parmesan cheese, or sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
- FRIDGE: Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- FREEZER: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat over a medium flame on the stove, or in the microwave in 30-6o second intervals, stirring in-between.