This hearty chickpea soup recipe is full of Mediterranean flavors, thanks to a combination of roasted red peppers, smoked paprika, farro, and feta. It's an easy, one-pot meal with delicious flavor that comes together in just about an hour, perfect for your next weeknight dinner!
A few weeks ago, I peered into the pantry and noticed a jar of roasted red peppers, sitting and collecting dust. So, I challenged myself to create a delicious soup using the red peppers and my favorite pantry staples.
The resulting recipe is smoky, nourishing, and so tasty! This is a great option to add to your repertoire. For more cozy fall recipes, try my squash and farro risotto, mushroom bourguignon, or mascarpone polenta.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's delicious. Roasted red peppers and paprika provide a nice smokiness, while the feta brings a salty, tangy flavor. It’s almost like a cross between a Moroccan and Greek chickpea soup, with flavors of harissa and briny feta.
- It's a one-pot wonder. Farro and chickpeas provide a textural bite and transform this nourishing soup into a complete meal.
- It's convenient. Best of all, there are very few non-pantry items. It’s a great way to use up what you’ve got at home and save a trip to the grocery store.
- Spices: Smoked paprika, chili flakes, ground cumin, and ground coriander help to amp up the flavor here. The smoked paprika is pretty front and center in this dish, so I recommend getting the good stuff (typically, you can find a high-quality smoked paprika at specialty grocery stores, international food stores, or online). For more tips, check out my recommendations on where to purchase spices.
- Roasted Red Peppers: Jarred roasted red peppers are often brined in salt, so make sure to rinse them thoroughly. Can't find jarred peppers? You can also substitute 12 ounces of drained, fire-roasted diced tomatoes.
- Semi-Pearled Farro: It takes about 25 - 30 minutes for semi-pearled farro to cook in the soup until tender, but if you soak it overnight, it’ll cook even more quickly.
- Canned Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans: I recommend canned, cooked chickpeas for a faster cook time. Make sure to rinse and drain them.
- Vegetable Broth: Use your favorite vegetable broth (I love Better than Bouillon's vegetable base). If you eat meat, chicken broth works too!
For a full list of ingredients, please refer to the recipe card.
Swaps and Substitutions
- Aromatics: Celery and carrots add a little bit of sweetness, but if you don’t have them, feel free to replace with fennel or omit altogether.
- Protein: White beans are a great sub for chickpeas here. In fact, their softer texture is a nice contrast to the farro. Alternatively, try a plant-based protein, such as "beef" crumbles.
- Fresh Herbs: I call for fresh parsley, but dill, mint, or green onions would also be lovely here.
- Feta: If you don’t have feta, try a spoonful of salted yogurt or salted labneh (just season a little bit of Greek yogurt or labneh with salt).
How to Make This Chickpea Soup
Step 1: In a large pot or large dutch oven, saute the olive oil with red pepper flakes, garlic, pepper flakes, onion, carrot, and celery until softened.
Step 2: Meanwhile, puree the drained roasted red peppers until smooth.
Step 3: Saute the pureed peppers over medium heat until the paste concentrates and begins to stick to the sides of the pan.
Step 5: Divide the soup into serving bowls and top with parsley and crumbled feta. Enjoy!
Here are my tips on the best way to prepare this brothy chickpea soup!
- Prep ahead: If you get all your aromatics chopped, you can prep the rest of the components (blending the roasted red peppers, measuring additional spices, etc.) while they’re cooking.
- Serve with bread: I love a warm piece of crispy focaccia or toasted pita to sop up the broth.
- Adjust seasonings as needed: Often times, when soups or stews taste slightly off (that "something's missing" feeling!), you can adjust seasonings to achieve the flavor profile you’re looking for. When in doubt, add a bit of salt! Salt can usually fix most seasoning problems. Or try a squeeze of lemon juice for a fresh flavor.
Storage & Make-Ahead Instructions
Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container for 3 - 4 days.
You can make the soup 1 - 2 days ahead of time and reheat in the microwave or simmer on the stove until warmed. You may need to add a little bit more liquid as the soup will thicken in the fridge. The flavor often continues to develop after cooking, so it'll still be delicious the next day!
Also, the farro will absorb more liquid over time, so the texture may change slightly — if this bothers you, feel free to cook the farro separately, and then add it back in when serving.
Yes, homemade roasted red bell peppers might even add a little bit more flavor than the jarred version. Just make sure to use an equivalent amount of peppers.
Yes, you can, but I'd recommend soaking and cooking the dried chickpeas first. You can replace the broth and water with the reserved chickpea broth, too!
Look for a semi-pearled farro (or one with an estimated cooking time of about 25-30 minutes). I don't recommend using whole farro, as it will take significantly longer and soak up too much broth.
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Smoky Mediterranean Chickpea Soup
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 small onion
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes, or ¾ teaspoon aleppo chili flakes, plus more if desired
- Salt and black pepper
- 16 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed well (should yield 11 to 12 ounces of drained peppers, or a little less than 1 ½ cups)
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika, not spicy | plus more if desired
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more if desired
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander, plus more if desired
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ cup semi-pearled farro, rinsed
- 1 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
- A generous handful of parsley
- ½ cup feta cheese, preferably sheep's milk feta in brine, crumbled into small pieces
- Prep the aromatics: Finely mince 6 cloves garlic. Finely chop 1 medium carrot, 1 stalk celery, and 1 small onion.
- Cook the aromatics: In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and the minced garlic. Set over medium-low heat, then saute the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in ½ teaspoon red chili flakes red pepper flakes; once they sizzle, add in the onion, carrot, and celery. Increase the heat to medium and cook the aromatics until softened and slightly shrunken in size, about 8 - 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Blend the roasted red peppers: While the aromatics are cooking, use a small blender to blend the drained peppers into a smooth and homogeneous paste.Note: The red peppers may resist blending for the first few seconds, but just keep going and they'll eventually puree!
- Build the rest of the soup: Add the roasted red pepper paste to the pot, and stir to combine over medium heat. Saute for about 3 - 4 minutes, until the paste begins to stick to the sides of the pan. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and cook for 1 minute. Add in the 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 quart vegetable broth, 1 ½ cups water, and ½ cup semi-pearled farro. Season with salt and pepper (though keep in mind, the feta garnish will add some more saltiness). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until farro is just barely al dente, about 20 - 25 minutes.
- Finish the soup: Just before the farro is cooked, stir in the chickpeas and half of the parsley. Continue simmering until farro is completely cooked, about 5 minutes. Taste the soup, and adjust with seasonings, adding the remaining paprika if desired, and additional amounts of the other spices as needed. If the soup is too thick, you can thin it out with a bit of water.
- Serve the soup: Divide the soup into bowls, and top with crumbled feta cheese and more parsley.