Spiced garbanzo bean soup

My roommate in Washington,  DC introduced me to African cuisine. Inspired by those flavors, I created this delicious, nourishing, and colorful dish. I love all beans and garbanzos are at the top of my list! This powerful legume provides cholesterol-lowering fiber, iron, protein, etc. And with so much goodness, I knew I could add a little naughtiness—a small amount of crispy applewood smoked bacon strips. This is a crowd pleaser!


  • 1 lb dry garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 strips smoked applewood bacon
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped


Soak the Garbanzos (Make ahead) 

Sort beans, rinse, and place in a large pot or bowl.  Add 8 cups of cold water and let it stand overnight or at least 4-6 hours.  May be covered with a kitchen towel or saran wrap, if needed.  Drain and rinse in strainer.

Prepare the Soup

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté for a few minutes until translucent.  Add garlic and bell peppers; sauté for 1 minute. Add cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper.  Stir to blend.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place soaked beans in a large pot, add chicken broth, and set on medium-high heat.  Add celery, carrots, and potatoes. When broth boils, reduce heat to medium-low heat. Add onion mixture, stir with a wooden spoon, and let simmer until beans are cooked through*

* For a thicker soup, take a small amount of beans from the pot and puree in food processor or by hand. Add mashed beans to the soup until desired consistency is reached.

Taste and season with salt and fresh ground pepper; add lemon juice and stir gently. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes or more before serving.  

Serve soup in bowl, top with bacon strips, and garnish with chopped cilantro.


Cut all vegetables roughly the same size. They will cook evenly and give you an even consistency in every spoonful.

 Leave the salt and lemon for last. Salt and acidic ingredients will harden the beans and prevent them from cooking properly. Add salt when your beans are almost fully cooked and lemon juice right before serving.

SEEMS LIKE TOO MUCH WORK? It’s worth it! Making your beans from scratch at home helps you avoid all the sodium and added preservatives typical in canned food. And let’s face it, soaking does not require a lot of work :)

4 thoughts on “Spiced garbanzo bean soup

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