Heidi Swanson's Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic

By • April 23, 2013 36 Comments

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Author Notes: A spring vegetarian chickpea soup that's lush in all the right places (but won't lull you to sleep). Recipe from Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2011)Genius Recipes

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 1/2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (2 modest pinches)
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular)
  • Sweet paprika
  • Small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. In a medium-large pot over medium-high heat, combine the olive oil, onion, and a couple of big pinches of salt. Cook until the onions soften up a bit, a few minutes.
  2. Stir in the chickpeas, and then add the vegetable broth and garlic. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the saffron and egg yolks, then whisk in the yogurt. Slowly add a big ladleful, at least 1 cup, of the hot broth to the yogurt mixture, stirring constantly. Very slowly whisk this mixture back into the pot of soup.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring continuously for another 5 minutes or so, until the broth thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, never quite allowing broth to simmer.
  5. Ladle into individual bowls and serve sprinkled with a touch of paprika and plenty of chopped cilantro.

Topics: Soup

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Comments (36) Questions (1)

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about 1 month ago Andrea

While I enjoyed this soup and will no doubt make it again, I kept wishing for a little bright pop of something. A squeeze of citrus, perhaps? It left me craving a big bowl of avgolemono. I had nearly every kind of paprika in my cabinet *except* sweet paprika so I used a generous sprinkle of sumac. It was a lovely addition and gave the soup a nice bit of tartness.

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3 months ago placidplaid

It was the big OK. I added shredded kale because I had it hanging around. I also added a couple of broken up slices of cooked bacon. I knew that as it was, it wouldn't appeal to my son. I think it's better for these ingredients.

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5 months ago maxypunx

Does this reheat well? I've never made soup with egg yokes...

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7 months ago Kaede Sullivan

Hm. I tried this out last weekend and followed instructions to the letter. My husband liked it but I had trouble getting around the tartness of the yogurt. Might just be me.

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over 1 year ago homie sapiens

I just made this, and it is lovely. I may have completely ignored the proportions, not out of willfulness but because I had only one egg on hand. I reduced the yogurt accordingly to a half of a single serving container. Still, delicate and satisfying at the same time.

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over 1 year ago Horto

i made "winter warming" soup from this site and using the cooking liquid was tasty….

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over 1 year ago Horto

wondering if you are using dried beans, would it be useful to use the broth from beans instead of veggie broth? what do you think?

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over 1 year ago Wendy Perrotta

I made as is using Wallaby non-fat greek yogurt. I might try Labne next time just to see if that makes it thicker but the thinness didn't really bother me. I used dried chickpeas which I soaked overnight and then cooked for about 30 minutes in water with a little baking soda. That helps the skins come off the beans. I did peel off all the skins. I liked the soup as is but then also added some lemon to see what that would be like. That was good too. I suppose sumac which is a bit lemony might be a nice addition instead. I think the basic soup provides a nice palate to allow you to personalize as you see fit. I feel like it might also benefit from a little spicy heat so will try adding a little chili oil to top or perhaps a little sprinkle of alleppo pepper. Also want to try with a little smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika. I could see omitting the cilantro and trying a different herb; a little pesto swirled in, or fresh mint, or some zaatar. The possibilities are endless!

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over 1 year ago AnnieHynes

I liked the soup but definitely was not wild about the hard chickpea texture. Do they ever soften?

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over 1 year ago Daria

I really liked this. I left out the eggs, put half of the yogurt in, added cut up potatos and used chicken broth. And a little pepper. Nice!

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over 1 year ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

more of a soup than a stew...I also had trouble getting it to thicken to what stew consistency should be(although the picture really looks like a soup). pureed half the chickpeas; added some lemon juice.

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over 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

havenlt made this yet, but you should be able to thicken this a bit by pureeing some of the chickpeas.

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over 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

not sure how I missed this when it was first posted. This sounds amazing, and I'm sure it will find a place in my soup rotation this winter -- minus the cilantro.

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almost 2 years ago fatgirleating

i usually make this when i have left over roast chicken in the house. i shred the chicken and throw it in with any juices, and some thinly sliced lemon. heaven!

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almost 2 years ago Beth Hartong

I've made this twice and I really like it. It never thickens much for me. Also, I like to top it with croutons to add a little crunch.

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almost 2 years ago Ken Woytisek

Myrian,
I did not get the results you seem to have gotten. For me it was more like the Greek Egg-Lemon Soup. Why do you "think" what you bought was saffron? There is a lot of adulterated saffron out there but I also wonder if you used turmeric (the poor man's "saffron") ? Thinking about it, I also wonder if it was azafran ( a legitimate spice but used for coloring in Mexican cuisine and sometimes sold as saffron.)

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over 1 year ago homie sapiens

Ken, did you mean achiote? Azafran is just saffron in Spanish. We use it a lot for rice (made rigorously with broth, not water!). Growing up, my mom had a guy that got her the good stuff, bypassing the large commercial operations altogether. Achiote, on the other hand, is a seed that is used for its yellow-red color in marinades in much of Latin America or and the Caribbean, in dishes ranging from cochinita pibil to arroz con gandules. Hope that helps clarify the 'spices you add to food to make it yellow' question! Unfortunately a lot of commercial 'saffron' is either adulterated, as you said, or really low quality, to the point that it gives almost no flavor or aroma to the food, just color. The little packets of powdered 'saffron' that I see all over Europe are of depressing quality!

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almost 2 years ago Myrian

I followed the recipe pretty closely... and used Greek Yogurt. Did anyone else get a very intense greek yogurt taste/smell to their soup? I felt like the flavors were lost with the greek yogurt. I live in Japan and bought what I think is saffron... that might not have helped!

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almost 2 years ago J David B

Check the ingredients of your "greek" yogurt. Greek yogurt as it's now known more commonly mostly in the U.S. is basically yogurt that's had most of the whey strained off after it sets. BUT so many of the "Greek yogurts" out there have gelatin added to it in order to keep it firm (unfortunately this is done with cheaper, lower quality brands, even in Greece). What the source of gelatin is (fish or mammal) is another thing altogether. That might be the source of the taste?

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about 2 years ago FunkyLady

I really enjoyed this soup. I used cannellini beans instead of garbanzo beans, parsley instead of cilantro, and chicken broth instead of vegetable broth- because that is what I had on hand. Also, added about two tablespoons of minced jalepeno. I loved it, my boyfriend thought it could have used more texture...

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about 2 years ago AusTex

I used coconut yogurt because it was all I had in the frig and it came out excellent, kind of a Thai taste.

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about 2 years ago libelletage

This was delicious and a hit with my family!