This recipe for Vegan Chickpea Orzo Soup is extra comforting if you’re feeling under the weather! Cozy up to a bowl of it to warm up this winter. It’s filled with comforting orzo, warming vegetable broth, hearty chickpeas, & bright turmeric for a simple, fast, and healthy weeknight dinner.
What was Inspiration for Making Chickpea Orzo Soup
This brothy recipe is inspired by classic chicken noodle soup, a go-to comfort food when feeling under the weather. It came to fruition when I was just beginning to recover from my COVID booster shot (I am very grateful to have had access to it, the side effects hit me hard but only lasted a day or two). I was not in the mood for anything particularly flavorful but was ready to eat something besides toast. Additionally, I had a feeling my body would appreciate some vegetables and plant-protein.
This soup is made with pantry-friendly ingredients. Dried pasta, canned chickpeas, broth, and ground spices make up the bulk of this dish, while an onion, some celery, and carrot (all long-lasting produce items) round it out. This means it is great when you may not have many ingredients on hand or are struggling to come up with a well-rounded weeknight dinner (= me, always). Furthermore, as detailed below, many of these ingredients are easily customized to whatever you may have in your cupboard. But more on that later.
Ingredients Needed for this Recipe
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
- 1 large carrot, sliced into rounds
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, optional
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 bay leaf
- One can cooked chickpeas, drained (1 1/2 cups)
- 8 oz dry orzo pasta (or other small pasta, like ditalini or pearl couscous)
- 1/4 cup parsley, minced
- 7 cups vegetable broth
- 1-2 cups kale, chopped (or other dark leafy green, like chard or spinach)
- Lemon juice, to taste
How to Make Chickpea Orzo Soup
1. Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven or stock pot and heat over medium. Next, add chopped onion and salt and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Toss in celery and carrots and cook a few minutes more, stirring to prevent burning. Add garlic, black pepper, turmeric if using, curry powder, and bay leaf. Let cook 30 seconds.
2. Pour in drained chickpeas, pasta, parsley, and vegetable broth. If using low sodium broth, you’ll want add a pinch more salt at this point. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and let cook for 10 minutes or so, until pasta is cooked through.
3. Stir in kale, letting it cook for 1 minute or so to wilt. Juice 1/2 of a lemon to brighten things up. Remove from heat.
4. To serve, garnish with more black pepper, parsley, lemon juice, and cashew parmesan. Enjoy!
Can this recipe be made in advance or frozen?
Yes, this recipe can be made completely ahead and keep for 4-5 days in a sealed container in the fridge. However, the pasta will begin to absorb the liquid so the dish will become less broth-y over time. I often add water and a pinch of salt when reheating to get some of this back.
Feel free to freeze this recipe for eating later. For best results and pasta texture, I recommend preparing the soup base without adding pasta (it can absorb quite a bite of liquid as it sits). When you pull this out of the freezer, feel free to defrost it on the stove and then cook the orzo right in the soup, adding more broth or water as needed.
Possible Substitutions + Ways to Customize
- Out of orzo? No problem! If so, feel free to substitute any other small pasta shape such as pearl couscous, ditalini, or even macaroni. Be sure to follow package instructions for recommended cooking time in case they differ from the 10 minutes specified here.
- If you do not want the pasta to absorb the liquid in this recipe after sitting, feel free to prepare it separately (like usual, in its own pot) and store by itself in the fridge.
- Use kind of dark, leafy green in place of kale.
- Next, if you have any bagged vegetables hanging out in your freezer, this soup will happily accept additions such as riced cauliflower, peas, or even broccoli.
- Vegetable broth does make up a sizable amount of this recipe, I have often times found myself without any in stock (ha-ha). To omit the broth, substitute an equal amount of water with a few additions of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. This is not exactly the same but will work in a pinch, especially if you add more garlic and curry powder when preparing the soup base.
What to Serve with This Recipe
This soup is a perfect pair for a light and fresh salad, like this Arugula Fennel Salad with Citrus. Additionally, it would also be delicious for lunch next to a Vegan Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam. Like you can see in these photos, one of the easiest and most delicious pairings is a loaf of crusty multigrain bread.
If you like orzo, be sure to try one of my favorite recipes for Crispy Orzo with Peas and Garlic Butter!