Spiced Chickpea Soup

Anyone who loves beans will tell you that dried beans are better than canned beans. I'm talking chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed beans - those guys. Rehydrating the dried variety overnight then cooking them gives you access to all the flavour that canned ones have long since lost. Oh, and they're way cheaper.  

However this recipe is more about the cooking broth. Dried beans take a while to cook so the cooking water actually becomes quite delicious. When making hummus, I've often found myself throwing it down the drain. I tasted it a few times and thought 'why am I chucking this?'. It's like a stock, having extracted a lot of deep, umami flavour from those dried pulses.  

Fortunately, I stumbled upon a recipe that uses the broth by a fancy chef named David Kinch. The genius part is that he cooks the chickpeas along with herbs, spices and various hardy vegetables to make a super complex vegetable-bean stock. He then uses this stock, blitzed together with the beans and some vegetables, to make a delicious soup.

Wait! Pause. Indulge me in a little nerdy fact please: the species name for chickpeas is arietinum which is Latin for “ram's head” because of the resemblance of chickpeas to the head of this animal. Cool huh?

Back to the soup. Optionally, if it's the weekend and you're feeling particularly zen, include the spice bundle. It adds complexity and exciting touches of exotic flavours. Also, the cheesecloth bundle is pretty funky and I found it satisfying tying it up with string. If you don't have any cheesecloth you can always just throw the herbs and spices in the stockpot, making sure to extract them and not blending them up with the soup.

Everyone seems to eat soup with bread but I really don't think it's necessary here given the carby thickness provided by the chickpeas. So enjoy with a few reserved chickpeas scattered over, a good grind of black pepper, and generous drizzle of olive oil.

Spiced Chickpea Soup
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Spiced Chickpea Soup

2 litres of soup (6 portions) + extra vegetable Stock
Hands-on time:
30 mins
Hands-off time:
2 hours


  for the stock (and soup):
2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, halved (save the celery leaves)
1 small fennel bulb,quartered
1 turnip (or swede), quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
tsp sea salt
  for the herb bundle:
8 stalks parsely (or 4 sprigs thyme)
6 celery leaves
½ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 star anise
2 bay leaves


  1. Fill a very large pot with 5 litres (4½ quarts/1 gallon) with water. Add the chickpeas, onion, carrot, celery, turnip, fennel and garlic cloves.
  2. Bring the stock to a boil. Stir in the salt. Reduce the heat to med-low to keep it at a low simmer.
  3. If you're making the spice bundle, cut a 30cm x 30cm (1 square foot) of cheesecloth. Place the bottom 8 ingredients inside. Tightly tie up the sachet with string. Now place the bundle in the stock pot. Equally, you could just add the spices to the stockpot but make sure not to blend them with the final soup.
  4. Partially cover the stock with a lid and cook it for about 2 hours. The stock is done once a chickpea can be easily crushed.
  5. Turn the heat off and leave the stock to cool.
  6. To make the soup, scoop out all the chickpeas (reserve a few to garnish the soup later, if desired) and vegetables using a slotted spoon and place them in a large blender. Add a litre (4 cups) of the stock and blitz.
  7. To serve, season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the reserved chickpeas and a drizzle of olive oil.

Notes: recipe slightly adapted from David Kinch.