“If someone were to dare me to make a kick-butt Mediterranean dinner using pantry scraps, this chickpea soup would be it,” Suzy Karadsheh writes in her new cookbook, The Mediterranean Dish. With starring roles from canned chickpeas and baby spinach (plus a few flavor boosters, like onions, fresh garlic, spices and the all-essential fresh lemon juice), we’re inclined to agree.
“I love that this soup begins all North African,” she explains, “with warm notes of things like coriander and cumin and ends Italian style, with a pour of extra-virgin olive oil (the good stuff) and a shower of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. If you skip the cheese, you will not know what you’re missing; it rounds out the flavor in the best way possible.”
“The Mediterranean Dish” Copyright © 2022 by Suzy Karadsheh. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Caitlin Bensel. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach (2 to 3 ounces)
½ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large lemon, cut in half
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Crusty bread, for serving
1. Drain the chickpeas, reserving ½ cup of their liquid.
2. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and season with a big pinch of salt (about ½ teaspoon). Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes and black pepper and cook, stirring regularly for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat with the spices. Using a potato masher or the back of a sturdy fork, roughly mash the chickpeas (you’re just looking to break some of them up).
4. Add the stock and the reserved chickpea liquid. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partly cover the pot with the lid. Simmer the chickpeas for 30 minutes.
5. Turn the heat off. Stir in the spinach and parsley, and let the soup sit for 1 minute, until the spinach wilts. Squeeze half a lemon over the soup, stir and taste, adding more lemon juice to your liking.
6. Transfer the soup to serving bowls and top each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Serve with crusty bread.