Curried Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes, Ginger and Cilantro


Unless you were sleeping over the New Year, you will know that 2016 is International Year of Pulses. This piece of news might have struck you as slightly hilarious. With such serious issues facing humankind – climate change, the refugee crisis, Donald Trump – the United Nations dedicates an entire year to the celebration of lentils, chick peas, dried beans and peas?

It’s actually not so crazy. First off, these humble members of the legume family are nutritious –  full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals – and low in fat. They can help manage diet-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. They’re also inexpensive and contribute to environmental sustainability. According to Pulse Canada, the national industry association and a big player in this special year’s events, pulses have a low carbon footprint, they improve the sustainability of cropping systems, and they use half the non-renewable energy inputs of other crops.

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More interesting facts: Canada accounts for approximately 35% of global pulse trade each year. An estimated 70% of our production is exported, making us the world’s largest exporter of lentils and peas, and one of the world’s top five exporters of beans. We grow more than 80 varieties of lentils.

I’m late in jumping on the pulse bandwagon. There has already been much in the media on the subject, and members of Canada’s pulse industry have been hard at work for months rebranding their product here and abroad. Chef Michael Smith, Food Network celebrity and Canada’s ambassador for the Year of Pulses, is also off to a running start. Not only is he challenging us to take the Pulse Pledge – to commit to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks _ but he has also travelled the globe in search of the world’s best lentil dishes and now hosts the excellent web series Lentil Hunter.

In honour of this special year, I’m posting a recipe for a Curried Chickpea Soup from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook, by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowitz, head chefs at the iconic Rebar restaurant in Victoria, British Columbia. The recipe was brought to my attention by my friend and adventuresome home cook Amanda Shaughnessy. Packed with Asian flavour and a touch of heat, depending on how many jalapeño peppers you add, it contains plenty of our healthy honoured pulse of the day, chick peas.

I’ve made a few small adjustments to the recipe, including the option of using canned tomatoes in place of fresh ones, considering the absence of good tomatoes in stores this time of year. The recipe calls for vegetable stock, so I’ve also included Rebar’s own recipe, with a few tweaks. A bowl of this soup is a good way to meet your Pulse Pledge, should you commit, and to warm you up on these cold winter days.

Curried Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes, Ginger and Cilantro
  • 7 to 8 cups (1.7 L - 2 L) vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) minced ginger
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, or to taste, seeded
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 6 ripe tomatoes or 1 28-ounce can, juice reserved
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) cracked pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5 mL) turmeric
  • 3 cups (720 mL) canned chick peas
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) prepared mango chutney
  • ½ of a 400 mL can unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ bunch cilantro, minced
  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot and add onion, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt, and bay leaves. Sauté until onions are soft and golden. Meanwhile, place the garlic, ginger, jalapeños, red pepper and tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until the vegetables form a rough purée. Set aside.
  2. Add spices to the sautéed onions and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable puree and another teaspoon salt and simmer until small blobs of oil pool on the surface. Add the chick peas and 7 cups of stock, and bring to a simmer. Add more stock if a thinner soup is desired. Cook at a low simmer for 20 minutes, then add the chutney and coconut milk. Using a potato masher, gently mash the chick peas against the bottom of the pot to break them up slightly and thicken the soup, or use an immersion blender. Simmer and season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. Add chopped cilantro just before serving.
  • Serves: 8

Basic Vegetable Stock
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) whole black peppercorns
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme or parsley
  • 10 cups (2.5 mL) cold water
  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion, leeks, carrots and celery. Separate the garlic bulb and smash the cloves with the flat of your knife.
  2. Heat oil in a large stock pot and add the onions, leeks, carrots, celery, and bay leaves. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add all of the remaining ingredients, including the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and cool if not using immediately. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Makes approximately 8 cups (2 L)

4 thoughts on “Curried Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes, Ginger and Cilantro

  1. Julie Hairston

    Wow! This is all my favorite things in one bowl. With the weather turning to deep freeze now, a big serving of savory chickpea soup looks like the perfect antidote for the chills.

  2. Leslie

    I am going to try this weekend… I really enjoyed your blog (and I was one of those who slept through the announcement that it was the year of pulses 🙂 !).

  3. Leslie

    Louise, we all LOVED the soup ! McKenzie said she’s cream it using the soup-er thing (not just the potato masher) but I thought it was lovely as a chunky soup. I made homemade tea biscuits to go with it and we had cheese on the table as well. It was absolutely delicious !!


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