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.
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!
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.
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
Tomato Ginger Soup
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 1 large white onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 3 scallions/green onions, thinly sliced (white and green sections divided)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 (28 fl oz/796 ml) cans whole tomatoes
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed (see note 1)
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube (see note 2)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 (14 fl oz/398 ml) can can coconut milk (full fat recommended, see note 3)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed (see note 1)
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Start Soup: Heat grapeseed oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the white sections of the scallions (reserve the green sections for garnish), garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes (and their juices), chickpeas (1 cup), paprika, bouillon cube, bay leaves, and salt. Stir to mix.
- Simmer: Cover pot with the lid slightly ajar, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the flavors develop.
- Bake Chickpeas: Meanwhile, scatter chickpeas (2 cups) on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pat dry with a clean dish towel. Drizzle chickpeas with grapeseed oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake until crispy, 25 to 30 minutes, shaking the pan half way. The chickpeas will continue to firm up as they cool.
- Finish Soup: Stir coconut milk into soup. Bring to a simmer. Remove bay leaves. Transfer soup to a blender and process until smooth (depending your blender size, you may need to do this in batches). Taste and season, if needed (see note 4). Divide soup into bowls and top with the crispy chickpeas and reserved scallions.
- Chickpeas: This recipe (1x) calls for 3 cups chickpeas total, from about two cans (15 oz/14 fl oz/398 ml each). You can substitute home-cooked beans instead of canned.
- Bouillon: The bouillon cube adds extra flavor without the liquid. You can substitute bouillon concentrate instead of the cubes, just refer to the package instructions for the equivalent.
- Coconut milk: For the best results use full-fat coconut milk. "Light" coconut milk is usually just a watered down version, for the same price. If you're set on using "light" coconut milk, you can buy a can of full-fat coconut milk, water it down yourself, and keep the extras for another use.
- Thinning soup, if needed: Depending on how thick you like your soup, you may also wish to add a bit of water or vegetable stock to loosen.