Tomato Ginger Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas

A fresh, creamy tomato soup spiked with ginger, coconut and scallions. The crunchy, addictive chickpea garnish offers a healthy alternative to traditional croutons.  A light, yet satisfying meal. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>

After a weekend filled with eating and laughing with friends, my stomach and heart are so darn full. Yesterday evening marked our 5th "Friendsgiving"– a yearly event where some of my closest childhood friends gather over an eclectic potluck dinner. Even though our awkward school days of braces, frizzy hair and branded hoodies are behind us, I still can't help but see the same people I met over 10-15 years ago. We're all a bit taller now, a lot less gangly, and slightly more mature. But get 26 of us seated around a makeshift dinner table with lots of wine and beer, and well, it's like we never grew up. And what an awesome feeling that is.

The evening was so much fun that I almost forgot about my burgeoning food baby – that is, until this morning when it was still there. A (not so) gentle reminder of all the food I ate last night. So what does that have to do with soup? Well, first off, it's what I ate for dinner. But more importantly, it's the soup I often turn to when I feel like giving my body a well-deserved break. It's light and refreshing, but satisfying enough to be a meal. An added benefit? It's pretty easy to keep these ingredients on hand, so that you're ready to whip up a batch whenever your body could use some TLC! Or, whenever you just want some delicious soup.

Let me tell you, this is no ordinary tomato soup. It's rich and creamy, all without a lick of dairy. The ginger adds a hint of heat which is perfectly balanced by the creaminess of the coconut. And a heaping mound of spiced chickpeas adds the perfect crunch. Forget about boring saltine crackers with your tomato soup – spiced chickpea croutons are where it's at.

Tomato Ginger Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free

Fresh ginger is the subtle star of this soup. It totally makes this dish. Ginger root is wonderful for healing. It's often used for nausea and motion sickness. Interestingly, ginger helps with circulation and can create a warming sensation in the body, which makes it particularly suitable in the cooler months. I tend to feel quite cold in late fall and winter, so fresh ginger tea becomes one of my main-stays.  And since there's nothing like a warm bowl of soup during the cold winter months, I tend to add ginger to my soups too.

Ginger is dirt cheap at the store and keeps for weeks. The best way to store uncut ginger is in an airtight freezer bag, stored in the crisper section of your fridge. I use mine so quickly that I usually just keep a couple chunks out on the counter. You don't have to peel the skin off, but I prefer to. Peeling ginger can seem finicky – but it isn't as bad as it seems. You can use a knife, a vegetable peeler, or even better, a spoon! I find that using an edge of a spoon to scrape off the skin is the easiest and most effective way to peel ginger. And, it results in the least waste!

Tomato Ginger Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free

I wanted this tomato soup to taste rich and creamy; but instead of adding cream, I used a combination of blended chickpeas and coconut milk.  In fact, this soup is actually blended twice. We first blend the "cream" base of chickpeas and coconut milk, before adding it to the tomatoes to cook down. Then, once the soup has bubbled away on the stove, we'll blend the entire mixture a second time.  The result is a smooth, luscious soup that tastes just as indulgent as its dairy-filled counterparts.

I'm going to pause for a moment.

You know those recipes that call for half of a can of something? And then expect you to just keep the rest and magically have another recipe that calls for the second half? Oh and by the way, you need to use it in the next couple days or it'll go bad? I do. I know that sometimes it's unavoidable, but I really dislike when I'm in these situations, so we'll have none of that today. We're going to use the second half of the chickpeas to make something fancy. Like, crunchy chickpea croutons for adding on top of the soup.

Tomato Ginger Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free

While the soup is bubbling away, the chickpeas are tossed in fragrant spices and then baked in the oven. They make the perfect topping to this soup, and are best added right before serving, so they stay as crispy as possible. Did I mention they're addictive just on their own? I've made several batches of these chickpea croutons (both with and without soup) – they're the perfect healthy snack to have around the house!

So next time you're craving soup, give this one a try. And if you're confident you'll like crispy chickpeas (I am), you might even want to make extra. I promise you won't regret it!

Tomato Ginger Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free

TOMATO GINGER SOUP WITH CRUNCHY CHICKPEAS

SERVES 6 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. coconut)*
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, diced
  • 3 green onions (white stems diced, reserve green tops for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cans of whole tomatoes (28oz / 795 g per can)
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz / 385 g)
  • 1/2 can of chickpeas, rinsed (9.5oz / 270 g)**
  • 1 vegetable boullion cube (ideally organic)***
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Crunchy chickpea croutons:

  • 1/2 can of chickpeas, rinsed (9.5oz / 270 g)**
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil (e.g. coconut)*
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

Tomato ginger soup:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Combine oil and onion. Cook until the onion begins to soften (~3 minutes). Add garlic, ginger, and chopped green onions (white stems only, keep green tops for later). Cook until fragrant (3-5 minutes). Stir in paprika and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add in both cans of tomatoes.
  2. Using a strainer / colander, rinse the chickpeas thoroughly under cool water. Give them a shake to remove excess water. Roughly separate the chickpeas into two even batches. Add the first half to a blender. Keep the second half in the strainer, until you make the croutons.
  3. In the blender, combine half the chickpeas  and the full can of coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture to the stock pot. Stir well. Crumble the vegetable boullion cube into the soup; and add the bay leaves. Stir to combine. Once the soup has reached a boil, reduce heat and bring soup to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for ~30 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Transfer into a blender and process until smooth. Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in batches. Salt to taste (1/2 teaspoon recommended). To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with crispy chickpeas.

Crunchy chickpea croutons:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Take the second half of the chickpeas and dry them off with a clean dishtowel (or paper towel). Discard any skins that come off when you rub the chickpeas dry. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Stir to coat. 
  3. Sprinkle paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder over the chickpeas. Toss until the chickpeas are covered evenly. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once chickpeas are firm, remove from oven and season with salt and pepper to taste. The chickpeas will continue to firm up as they cool. Store extras in an airtight container (at room temperature)

Notes:
-*If using coconut oil for savory dishes, you may wish to opt for processed (deodorized) coconut oil. It doesn't impart the same coconut scent. Or, if you prefer, you could also use a different neutral oil such as grapeseed oil or butter / ghee.
-**Use one 19 oz / 540 g can, divided. If you prefer to cook your beans at home, substitute 1 can of chickpeas  for ~2 cups cooked chickpeas.
-***The boullion cube is a trick to add extra flavor. This recipe calls for the cube only (flavor enhancer) and no additional liquid. You can leave it out if you wish.
-Depending on how thick you like your soup, you may wish to add a bit of extra water / coconut milk to thin it out (especially after storing it overnight in the fridge).