A Meal Worth Fighting For:  Catalan Chickpea & Spinach Soup

A Meal Worth Fighting For: Catalan Chickpea & Spinach Soup

Let me paint a picture for you.

Me with my camera and a bowl of soup trying to take a nice photo in the waning light. Nearby, three children are circling like hungry wolves…their mouths slightly agape and their eyes fixated on their prey.  You heard me right.  The neighborhood children were stalking this soup.  When I finally let them at it, they took turns devouring the contents of the bowl while saying things like “don’t take it all” “my turn” and “let me have some.”  I kid you not.  It’s that good.

But I also feel like I need to fight for this soup because the pictures just don’t do it justice.  This is one of those dishes that looks like “how nice…you made soup” and tastes like “OMG!  You made soup!”

So for the final installment of my week-long soup bender, I present Catalan Chickpea & Spinach Soup.  This excellent soup comes together in a snap and delivers a delicious bowl of creamy warm comfort.  The recipe came to me from my friend Paula who got it from Lita who received it from her mother, who got it from a restaurant in Spain.  Get the picture?  This is one of those soups that is so surprisingly delicious that it compels you to seek out the recipe.

Why “surprisingly delicious”?  Because greatness comes from these humble ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas (or 3 cups canned, drained and rinsed) (See Note)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed, divided
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and sliced (2/3 to 1 cup)
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups stemmed spinach leaves well washed and cut into chiffonade
  • 8 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, coarsely chopped


NOTE:  If using dried chickpeas, rinse & soak them overnight in cold water in the refrigerator.  Drain and rinse again.  Put the chickpeas in a medium saucepan with fresh cold water to cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until tender, about 1 hour.  Drain and set aside.  Whew, that is a lot of work!  I use canned.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent and just starting to brown, 10-15 minutes.

Add 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic (about 1 teaspoon), and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Add the sliced potato, 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas and 5 cups of the stock.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato and beans are falling apart, 20-30 minutes.  Puree the soup in batches in your blender or using an immersion blender.  Don’t have an immersion blender?  Go buy one.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a very large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat.  Add spinach and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until wilted 3-5 minutes.

Add the spinach to the pureed soup.

Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan over medium heat.  Add the 6 tablespoons of the almonds along with the minced garlic and cook a couple of minutes until fragrant.

Add the almonds and garlic to the soup along with the remaining chickpeas.

Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining toasted almonds.  WARNING:  Make sure to make enough or you may have a riot on your hands.