The past couple of years April showers have been showing up in May. Not a complaint – just an observation. But regardless of when the rains arrive, one thing is for certain – spring is a messy season. But you can’t really tell that from the food. Peruse the Internet for spring recipes and you’re liable to find vibrant pasta dishes, exuberant salads, and even the odd grilling recipe. But one thing you won’t see a whole lot of is soup. Sure, there may be the odd brothy bowl but thick, stick-to-ribs stews? Not so much. And I just think it’s a shame. Here in Canada, springs are not the warmest, and what is worse than cold rain? Not a whole lot. So I gift you this Golden Chickpea Stew because let’s face it, it’s not summer yet.
One of the most surreal things about being a food content creator is watching my social feeds shift with the calendar. One minute we’re living that bolognese life and the next we’re posting our Top 10 favorite things to make with asparagus. The culinary calendar appears to pay little attention to the weather outside. But as a born and raise East Coaster, I consider March to be a full-on Winter month, April a cruel tease, and May an emotionally-draining temperature tug-of-war. That’s why I don’t surrender my cozy comfort foods until the first week of June at least. Do I wish I could do it sooner? Of course. But what can I say? I’m a weather realist.
What I love about today’s Golden Chickpea Stew is its particular brand of heartiness. Sure, it’s got the heft of a heavy stew but the flavor is a little lighter. In other words, this is no bœuf bourguignon. This stew is decidedly more chill than its meaty counterparts. Relying solely on oil for its fats and yellow split peas for its body. Its flavor comes from a Madras curry powder rounded out with habanero for a little heat and a healthy squeeze of lemon for brightness. And finally, the soup’s garnish is a tart dollop of yogurt and a refreshing burst of fresh mint. Can you feel the sun on your shoulders?
This stew is a breeze to put together. It’s more or less a throw-it-in-and-leave-it affair. If you’ve ever made pea soup, you’re more than prepared to take this on. And for anyone unfamiliar, pea soup is beyond simple to make. I once called my mom to ask her for her pea soup recipe and she laughed at me. She was confused because there isn’t a recipe! You put a bag of split peas, a ham bone, and some water in a pot, turn on the heat, and walk away. All you have to do is remember to come back when it’s mush. This Golden Chickpea Stew follows essentially the same timeline…minus the ham bone.
Now that we’ve talk about the stew, let’s talk about the garnishes. You know how I love a good complex garnish. I know I am in the minority here. So if you’re good with all that was discussed above but not feeling the fried onion fantasy or the dirty frying pan that comes with it, feel free to omit it. This stew tastes amazing with nothing more than a bit of yogurt and mint. And how do I know that? I know that because I forgot to serve the onions when I served the soup for dinner. Another flaw in my cooking style. I make so many odds and ends that a few never make it to the table. But I digress.
The fried onions are loosely inspired by pakora but I merely dusted the onions in chickpea flour rather than battering them in the stuff. I also added finely chopped celery leaves to the mix and cumin seeds to the onions. And instead of deep frying, I went with an inch of oil and nothing more. Then it’s nothing more than a fry and a flip and a fry, followed by a drain. And then you have lightly crisp and cumin-y onions to adorn your soup with.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Golden Chickpea Stew. It’s cozy, comforting, and the perfect antidote for wet socks. Becuase it’s going to rain for the next little while so we might as well get comfortable.
Golden Chickpea Stew with Fried Onions
- Large dutch oven
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 3 small carrots sliced
- 3 stalks celery leaves removed and reserved, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 2 tsp cumin seeds divided
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 8 cups water
- 1½ cups yellow split peas
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 habanero pepper
- 12-14 allspice berries
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 lemon juiced
- ½ yellow onion sliced into half-moons
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp celery leaves finely chopped
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup neutral oil for frying
- ⅓ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- fresh mint leaves for serving
For the Soup
- Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 8 hours. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.
- Pour the oil into a large dutch oven. Heat the oil until shimmering and add the onion and a pinch of salt. Saute until just translucent. Add the carrots and celery and saute until slightly softened. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the curry powder, cumin seeds, and ground coriander and saute briefly until fragrant. Pour in the water, yellow split peas, and chickpeas. Bring the stew up to a boil and add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, habanero pepper, allspice berries, honey, and salt. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cover. let cook for 2 hours or until the split peas disintegrate completely. Stir the soup occasionally to prevent sticking. Feel free to add more water if the soup starts to look too thick.
- Finish the soup with lemon juice and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the Onions
- When the soup is about 20 minutes away from serving, make the onions. Place the onion in a bowl and add the chickpea flour, salt, cumin seeds, and celery leaves. Toss to coat. Set aside and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the oil into a skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Once shimmering add the onion mixture in one go and let fry when it lands until it appears to be browning. Toss the mixture and let them cook undisturbed once again. Repeat until the onions are an even amber color on all sides. Transfer the onions to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of fried onions. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately.