Sunday, January 13, 2008

Garbanzo Bean Soup with Israeli Cous Cous

This a light vegetarian soup with lots of vegetables and a nice broth. The weather here has been quite unpredictable, but mostly rainy damp and cold. I was craving a flavorful vegetable soup so I made Garbanzo (chickpeas) bean soup and served it with Israeli cous cous. Israeli cous cous is larger than traditional cous cous and is sometimes also called Marmaon. This soup is an easy weekday meal, it comes together in about 45 min from start to finish.

If you are using dry Garbanzo beans, soak them overnight, drain and cook them for about 45 minutes covered with water. After cooking, drain and rinse the beans and proceed with the recipe as written. I have found the only brand of canned Garbanzo beans I like is Progreso, they can sometimes be found in the Latin American section of the grocery store. The others I have tried, including the organic variety tend to be undercooked and a bit crunchy. If you want to add some meat, shredded chicken or smoked sausage would make a nice combination, you could also substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth.

When making any soup, it is important all of the dry seasonings go in the pot early in the cooking stage. This allows the onions and other vegetables to absorb the spices, if they are added at the end they will end up just floating around the pot and the soup will not be as flavorful.

This is also my entry in the vegetarian blogging event called No Croutons Required, held by Lisa's Kitchen, you may look at the round-up here.

Garbanzo Bean Soup with Israeli Cous Cous

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used Vidalia Onions)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cans Chickpeas (garbanzo Beans) well rinsed and drained or cooked dry garbanzos (see note)
1 14 oz. can Italian tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (depending on how spicy you like your soup)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt to taste

Cous cous:

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups Israeli cous cous
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots, and dry spices and saute until onions are a bit caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini, tomatoes(with juice), lemon juice, garlic and fresh herbs and continue to cook for about 5 minutes longer. Cut the tomatoes in half with a wooden spoon while the soup continues to cook. If you are adding meat, add it now.

2. Add vegetable broth and Garbanzo beans, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. While the soup is cooking, make cous cous. In a medium sauce pan with a lid, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, add cous cous and lightly brown (about 5 minutes). Add 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until most of the stock has been absorbed. Fluff cous cous up with a fark and add chopped mint right before serving. Serve soup with a scoop of cous cous, garnish with additional herbs if desired.


  1. Oh, boy! Is that vibrant! You can tell this soup is full of flavor. I like the idea of Israeli cous cous instead of traditional pasta.

    Thank you for your great entry, Katia!

  2. I second Susan - that's a brilliant looking soup. I don't have Israeli, but I have some Turkish couscous with me, might make this to finish it off.


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