This easy garbanzo bean soup is inspired by the classic Italian chickpea soup called pasta e ceci. It’s a hearty one pot vegetarian soup for fall or winter.
From start to finish, you’ll get this soup packed with vegetables and garbanzo beans to your table in under one hour. And this garbanzo bean soup provides a great example for how to create your own soup recipes.
About garbanzo beans
Chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the exact same thing. The term “chickpea” comes from the French “pois chiches” and from the Latin “cicer.” Garbanzo, on the other hand, supposedly comes from Spanish via the Basque “garbantzu,” a combination of “garau” (“seed”) and “antzu” (“dry”).
Regardless of what you call them, garbanzo beans are a great source of protein. They’re found commonly in Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and falafel. Or in curries from India, where most of the world’s chickpeas are grown.
Tips and tricks
Soup-making is mostly art with a little bit of science thrown in.
Step 1: the base
Start with a base cooked in olive oil or butter in a large pot. The French mirepoix is a ratio of 2 parts onion to 1 part celery and 1 part carrot. The Cajun “Holy Trinity” is equal parts of onion, celery, and green bell pepper. In the case of this garbanzo bean soup, we start with onions, garlic cloves, celery, and carrots.
Tip from the wise quacker: cherry tomatoes provide acidity to this soup, as does adding vermouth or white wine. You can also finish soup with a little bit of vinegar or lemon or lime juice to add brightness.
Step 2: herbs and spices
Next go in your fresh herbs and spices. In this Italian-inspired garbanzo bean soup, it’s a bay leaf, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Plus salt and pepper, of course. Add a little at a time, and taste as you go.
Step 3: add liquids
Add the vegetable broth, water, and vermouth, bring it to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer – a slow bubbling. Vegetable soups are great for weeknight dinners because most cook for less than 30 minutes.
Step 4: purée and add pasta
Purée the soup with a blender. If you use a hand-held stick blender, please unplug it before you clean it! Stick blenders are one of the notorious hazards in the kitchen.
The traditional pasta shape for pasta e ceci is ditalini, meaning “small thimbles,” but any small pasta would work in this recipe. I made mine here with acini di pepe (“seeds of pepper”).
Step 5: garnish
Pasta e ceci is traditionally finished with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. You can omit or substitute the cheese if you avoid rennet.
Variations and substitutions
If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, feel free to sub ripe full-sized or roma tomatoes or a small can of chopped tomatoes. While I usually recommend whole tomatoes when you buy cans of tomatoes, the short cooking time here requires chopped tomatoes. If your fresh tomatoes don’t have much flavor, add a tablespoon of tomato paste.
Sub in canned white beans. Or you can also substitute dried chickpeas for the can of garbanzo beans. You’ll want about a cup of dried garbanzo beans, and you’ll need to soak and cook the garbanzos most of the way before adding them to the soup recipe.
You can sub in chicken broth if you aren’t vegetarian.
What to serve with this garbanzo bean soup
You don’t need much to accompany this hearty soup. I’d recommend a side salad and a bit of nice crusty bread like this semolina bread. If you’re drinking wine, go with a crisp white like a Pinot Grigio.
While technically it is exactly that, it is not a traditional recipe and I am not Italian. If you want to compare my recipe to Marcella Hazan’s, you can find that here.
Absolutely. Soups without dairy freeze perfectly prior to garnishing. To serve, reheat it gently in a pot on the stove top.
Or, if you are looking for vegetarian recipes using chickpeas or beans, try fawaffle (falafel waffles) or these white bean and quinoa balls for dinner with your favorite Middle Eastern sides. Or this cheesy white bean tomato bake. Or make my spiced chickpeas as a snack or to add something crispy to salads and grain bowls.
Garbanzo Bean Soup
- Blender or stick blender
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large onion (or 1 medium) chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more as desired
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper plus more as desired
- ⅛ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water plus more as necessary
- ½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
- ½ cup small pasta
- handful of kale, chopped
- 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) Parmesan, grated
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat.1 tablespoon olive oil
- When the olive oil is hot, add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, just until the onion is starting to color.½ large onion (or 1 medium) chopped
- Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, for about one minute.2 medium carrots, chopped, 2 stalks celery, chopped, 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Add the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and the herbs and spices and stir to mix.1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, 2 cans chickpeas, drained, 1 bay leaf, 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground pepper, ⅛ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- Add the liquids (broth, water, and vermouth or wine), increase the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Once it is at a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.2 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water, ½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
- Turn off the heat, ladle out 2 cups of the soup into the blender, and puree.
- Return the soup back into the pot, add the pasta and the kale, and cook until the pasta is cooked through. You may need to add more water as the pasta cooks, depending on your desired soup consistency.½ cup small pasta, handful of kale, chopped
- Taste the soup and adjust the salt and pepper as desired.
- Ladle into bowls, top with the grated Parmesan, and serve immediately.1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) Parmesan, grated
- If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, feel free to sub ripe full-sized or roma tomatoes or a small can of chopped tomatoes.
- If your fresh tomatoes don’t have much flavor, add a tablespoon of tomato paste.
- Feel free to sub in canned white beans in place of garbanzo beans. Or soak and partially cook dried garbanzo beans in place of canned.
If you make this garbanzo bean soup recipe, please leave a comment or rating here. Pretty please!
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