Chickpea soup with lemongrass and ginger


Chickpeas are often eaten for breakfast in Burma. They’re also used to make soothing soups like this one: cooked until tender, then flavored with a little hot oil and aromatics. Serve as a hearty winter soup with rice or bread and a vegetable side.


1 cup (250 mL) small brown or large white dried chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours in water to cover and drained, or 2 cups (500 mL) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) cooked chickpeas

2-1/2 to 5 cups (625 mL to 1.25 L) water, or as needed

1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed

2 slices ginger

2 Tbsp (30 mL) peanut oil or shallot oil

1/8 tsp (pinch) turmeric

1/4 cup (60 mL) minced shallots

1 tsp (5 mL) salt, or to taste

2 to 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) minced coriander

1 lime, cut into wedges


If using dried chickpeas: Put the chickpeas in a pot with 5 cups water, cover, and bring to a vigorous boil. Lower the heat slightly, maintaining a strong boil, and cook, partly covered, until the chickpeas are softened, 1 to 1-1/2 hours, adding extra water if necessary to prevent them from sticking.

If using canned or cooked chickpeas: Place the chickpeas in a pot with 3 cups water, if canned, or 2-1/2 cups, if home-cooked. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until soft.

Mash the chickpeas, mashing some completely and leaving others just a little broken, or pulse several times in a food processor. Add the lemongrass and ginger slices to the chickpeas, along with more water if necessary to give a soupy texture (you should have about 5 cups of soup). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the turmeric and shallots and sauté until the shallots are softened and translucent. Add the shallots to the soup, with the salt, and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature, topped by the minced coriander, and put out the lime wedges so guests can squeeze on lime juice if they wish.

Tomato-chickpea soup

Add 2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped (or 1-1/2 cups [375 mL] crushed canned tomatoes), to the sautéing shallots. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add to the broth and continue with the recipe. You won’t need the lime wedges.

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavour (Random House Canada). Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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