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Chickpea Soup with Spinach and Bread Crumbs

As Deborah Madison state in her cookbook containing this recipe, "Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen": "As in the Provencal gratin of chickpeas and spinach, this soup unites the two with bread crumbs and an important final thread of fruity olive oil. This is one soup I make using dried chickpeas. The flavor of a long-simmered chickpea is nutty, sweet, and rich--and not at all like a canned chickpea. Plus you'll need 6 or more cups of flavorful broth, which is what you'll get if you cook your own."
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Author Deborah Madison


  • 3 cups chickpeas soaked
  • 1 carrot peeled
  • 1 head of garlic sliced crosswise in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Handful of parsley sprigs tied together with string
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons fruity olive oil
  • 2 onions finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano not Mexican
  • Good pinch of dried thyme or 1 thyme sprig
  • 3 garlic cloves minces
  • Big bunch of spinach stems removed and leaves washed
  • Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  • 1 cup coarse bread crumbs moistened with 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Good fruity olive oil
  • NOTE
  • "A Provencal rose would be a match for this Provencal mixture of spinach chickpeas, plus the garlic, thyme and oregano."


  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a pot with the rest of the ingredients and 3 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender but hold their shape. They shouldn't get quite as soft as canned chickpeas. (This can be done a day or two ahead of time.) Season with a teaspoon of salt and set aside. If you'r inclined to, pinch the skins off the chickpeas and discard them.
  2. Heat the oil in a second soup pot. Add the onions, oregano, thyme, and a few pinches of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 15 minutes, occasionally giving them a stir. Add the garlic toward the end.
  3. Using a strainer, lift the cooked chickpeas into the pot with the onions and discard the rest of the aromatics. Strain the liquid and add 6 cups, setting the rest aside for the moment. Add another teaspoon of salt, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Puree 2 cups of the chickpeas and return them to the pot. If the soup seems too thick, thin it with any remaining liquid. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
  4. Wilt the spinach in a skillet in the water clinging to its leaves, then chop and add to the chickpeas. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then taste again and add lemon juice to bring up the flavor. Crisp the bread crumbs in a skillet. Ladle the soup into soup plates, scatter bread crumbs over each serving, drizzle with a little additional oil and serve.