North African Chickpea Soup


1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced small
1 stalk of celery or one leek, finely chopped
14 ounces can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup (yep, ketchup works great!)
2 tablespoons harissa or other chili paste, add depending on the amount of heat you can handle
1 liter (4 cups) water, chicken broth, vegetable broth
1 package fresh pasta or a large handful of rice noodles softened in hot
1/2 package of fresh spinach leaves or a few good handfuls
A squeeze of lemon juice or splash of red wine vinegar


In a large soup pot add the oil, onions and celery. Cook over medium low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and harissa. Cook a minute then add the water or stock slowly while stirring to combine the flavor paste in the pot with the liquids. Throw in the chickpeas and bring to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.
Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. My suggestion is that if you are using fresh pasta, give it a rinse under tap water to remove the starch before adding it to the soup. It might make the broth cloudy. If using rice noodles add them right before serving to prevent overcooked mushy noodles. To “cook” rice noodles place them in a shallow dish and cover with hot water for 10-15 minutes to soften.
Just before serving taste for seasoning, adjust to your taste. Adding too much salt earlier on could make things too salty because some of the ingredients can bring a lot of salt to the pot. Then add the spinach, it will only take a minute to shrink into nearly nothing, but it is sure a powerhouse vegetable that amps up the nutrition in this meal quickly and without fuss. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice after it has been taken off the heat will add a nice bright flavor to perk up those dreary dark days of winter. Enjoy with some crusty bread. A meal you can feel good about, filling yet light.


Food in a hurry makes for a relaxing meal. This is a quick throw together even if you do not have a super well stocked pantry. This can be vegetarian/vegan by altering the ingredients to your liking. Here I used rice noodles making it gluten free, just because I love the chewy texture of rice noodles. Soup is a great filler upper, and is usually lower in calories than you think, and this version is packed with nutrients. I made this North African by adding harissa. Harissa is a spicy paste made from chilies, tomatoes and other spices. I find that harissa can be very different between brands running the gauntlet between mild to “scspicy sauce” to quote the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show...




Friday, January 22, 2010 - 10:58am


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