Winter-Warming, Freezer-Friendly, Pantry-Cleaning Soup

January 14, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Adapted pretty extensively from Zuppe by Mona Talbott. (Hers is made with cannellini or cranberry beans instead; it suggests but does not include the farro and barley.) Chickpea-cooking technique adapted from Melissa Clark. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound chickpeas, dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, preferably Tuscan
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley (or use a cup and a half and no farro)
  • 3/4 cup farro (or use a cup and a half and no barley)
  1. Soak the dried chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight or for at least six hours. Drain the plumped chickpeas and add them to a large pot along with about 10 cups water. Also add: the rosemary sprigs, the bay leaf, a crushed clove of garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil and a tablespoon of salt. If you have a parmesan rind, add that too. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for an hour or so, or until tender; add more water along the way if too much boils off. Do not drain, but remove the rind, the rosemary, the garlic, and the bay leaf.
  2. Meanwhile, warm two or three tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and then add the diced onions and carrots. Sweat until soft; season with salt. Then chop the remaining garlic and add it and the tomatoes. Cook for 5 or 10 more minutes and then add the mixture to the chickpea pot.
  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking.) Destem the kale and cut the stem into thin slices; put aside. Roughly chop the leaves. Add the stem to the boiling water; boil for 2 minutes. Then add the leaves and boil for another 3 minutes. Drain and then cool. Chop the kale again if you think the leaves look too large for a soup. Add the kale to the chickpea pot. Simmer the whole thing for about 10 minutes.
  4. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking, too, or after you finish the kale.) Add the barley and farro (or just barley or just farro). Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain the grains but keep the barley/farro water.
  5. When the chickpea mixture has simmered for 10 minutes, add the farro/barley and simmer for another 5. If the soup looks too much like stew, thin it with your reserved barley/farro water. Season with salt. Serve with crushed chili flakes and/or parmesan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mae
  • Krista L.
    Krista L.
  • Cheryl
  • Debbi smirnoff
    Debbi smirnoff
  • Horto
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

33 Reviews

Mae June 26, 2019
I just made this with some slight changes to suite what I had on hand, and it came out surprisingly good! Not that I expected it to be bad, I just didn't really expect it to be anything special. I used lentils because I didn't have chickpeas, so I did miss out on the seasoning opportunity with the way the chickpeas are slow cooked. Still, it came out great!
Krista L. November 3, 2018
This soup is just so amazing--I make it several times a year. The manner in which the chickpeas are cooked takes them to the next level and the parmesan rind tucked in there adds a depth of flavor that's unmatched. One of my favorite soups of all time.
LLcsf October 15, 2017
Has anyone tried making this soup using canned chickpeas to reduce the prep and cooking time?
Cheryl October 15, 2017
Yes! I plan on using dried chickpeas next time, but make it any way you can. It's delicious and everyone loves it. Add in a Parmesan rind if you have it.
LLcsf October 15, 2017
Thanks for your reply, Cheryl. So, how do you adjust the recipe when you use canned chickpeas? I assume you don't follow Step 1, using 10 quarts of water and cooking for an hour?
Cheryl October 15, 2017
It's hard to remember. I probably looked up how many chickpeas a pound dried makes: One pound dried chickpeas = 6 cups fully cooked and drained chickpeas, and then did looked at the can to determine how many cups. Correct, omit step 1--but definitely get that rosemary in there, even if you have to simmer the water/broth with it for a while. I would not use the full 10 cups; you may have to play with that (maybe start with 5-6 cups?) and add more as desired as you get closer to the end. Also add in that oil from step 1. Beans will go in closer to the end so they don't get mushy, but cooking them an extra bit so they are not hard is good. The recipe is forgiving.
LLcsf October 21, 2017
Awesome, thank you Cheryl!
Cheryl January 7, 2017
I have made this many times and it's always delicious. I had homemade vegetable broth on hand so I used that yesterday. I do not add the grains. Love this soup!
Debbi S. March 23, 2015
Where can I find this kool bowl?
Josie M. January 24, 2015
I added a little sausage and some chicken stock and this was delicious with a bit of sriracha. Used Swiss chard instead of kale, too. We couldn't stop eating it.
Evie S. April 4, 2014
In my experience, dried soaked beans cook faster without added salt. I add salt once they are tender.
Naila March 6, 2014
A good advice whenever cooking beans, vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli is to use 1/8 tea spoon of asafetida. You can purchase it at any Indian grocery store. I keep mine in two Ziploc bags, away from the kitchen as at first it has a strong smell. But it's the best thing to use for legumes, and vegetables. Use it while cooking, it never leaves any taste or smell behind, so not to worry.
Horto February 21, 2014
step 5 confuses me, am I alone? so many pots!
I am making this now, adding hot dogs!
nola_t December 19, 2013
This is hands-down one of my favorite soups to freeze and take to work. It has a great balance of protein, fiber and vegetables, so I can make it all the way to dinner without getting hangry. I've never bothered to cook the kale separately, though I suspect that the Italians would frown on this. The flavors may end up a bit "muddier" if you don't cook the kale separately, but I don't mind it in the least. I've also successfully substituted collard greens for the kale-they hold up equally well in the reheating process.

In making this several times, I've learned that you absolutely need to salt it heavily from the beginning and at every step of the way (salt the beans at the beginning, despite what you may have been told, slat your barley/farro water, salt the veggies as they saute, etc.) Because there's no stock t add some complexity, the salt is a really critical ingredient and adding it at the end won't achieve the same results. If you're worried about salt levels, subbing out chicken or veggie stock for some of the water may help. I also like to add some extra onions, garlic & tomatoes. I add some homemade chili oil to each bowl to taste, which helps to bring all the flavors together and adds an extra layer of depth. I've also added a generous spoonful of harissa at the table, which took the flavors in a whole different (but delicious!) direction.
Lori November 21, 2013
I also added the kale directly to the soup to cut down on clean-up. I added some red pepper flakes and a bit of tomato paste to make the flavor a little bolder. I also added some red wine vinegar at the end for a little acidity. I thought this was a great fall soup and I did put some single servings in the freezer and there was no difference in taste after freezing so I will definitely make this through the winter.
queenofcashmere October 8, 2013
I made this with vegetable broth instead of water and added a Parmesan rind, to boot. It was meh. I added more salt and then some more. If served a blow of this, Oliver Twist would never have asked for more. Very disappointing.
Emilia R. October 8, 2013
I have a problem when people so discourteously express themselves simply because they didn't like a recipe. I try to imagine how they'd react on a really stressing situation--scary! Very, very bad manners... ;-P
1cup October 16, 2013
Why is it bad manners to say one doesn't like a recipe because it was bland? Is it bad manners not to like something or to say so publicly when it is in a public forum?
Emilia R. October 16, 2013
There are ways to say things politely.
Souplady October 7, 2013
I am trying this one very soon. Yum!
Emilia R. May 22, 2013
Oh, I so want to try this! Can't wait for winter to come back--not that the heat is really in, but, well, winter is a good excuse for this soup. I'll add some meat with bone to make it really filling. Thanks for the great recipe!
denise&food May 8, 2013
Made this yesterday and it is delicious. The only change I made was using spinach instead of kale and added it to the finished soup. Very hearty vegetarian soup. And extremely economical!
catydid February 5, 2013
To answer Miche's question, I put the chopped Kale directly into the simmering beans for a bit before adding the tomato/carrot/onion mixture. So no extra blanching step. Worked great. Fabulous soup, thanks!!!
Alex R. February 4, 2013
Nice dish, thanks for sharing. Barley & farro are very delicious additions. Found the process of making the soup a little cumbersome - would be nice to streamline it a bit (I did use the kale cooking liquid for grains at least). I used a pressure cooker on the beans, which was fast but meant that I didn't have all the cooking liquid I needed - ended up adding water in at the end. Still tasted pretty good though next time hope to figure out a better way.

Served with some Sriracha and a squeeze of lemon. Quite nice. Will add some sausage to the next bowl!
Daria F. January 24, 2013
We ate most of it and froze the rest. Its very good! My husband normally likes having some sort of meat in his meal, but he enjoyed this one a lot!
Jenny O. January 20, 2013
Do you freeze the fully assembled soup? If so, how does the reheat affect the texture of the kale/grains? If not, in what form should the soup be frozen?
Nicholas D. January 20, 2013
Just freeze the finished soup. It works!
Pamela731 January 20, 2013
This sounds fantastic. I'm trying to find hearty-healthy recipes and soups are always a favorite to make. Thanks