Chickpea and cilantro stew with cumin croutes

December 10, 2010 at 4:18 pm (AMA, Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars))

This is another bean recipe from the AMA cookbook.  It’s interesting in that there are no thickeners.  The chickpeas themselves are pureed to turn the dish into a thick stew. The flavors are supposed to be Mediterranean–Spanish maybe. I tried the recipe once a long time ago and found it a bit watery and bland, but Derek liked it.  I decided to give it another try.


  • 4 tsp. + 1.5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 3/4-inch thick slices of Italian or French bread (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup packed cilantro sprigs
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1.5 cups chopped seeded fresh tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  To make the croutes, stir together the 4 tsp. of olive oil with the cumin in a small bowl.  Brush the flavored oil lightly over both sides of the bread slices and arrange on a baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, turning once, until roasted on both sides.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining 1.5 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Stir in the broth and chickpeas and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. In a blender or food processor, process about half of the chickpea and broth mixture with the cilantro, lemon juice, and lemon peel to make a smooth puree.
  4. Return the pureed mixture to the pan with the remaining whole chickpeas and reheat gently, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately so that the colors remain bright.
  5. Place the cumin croutes in shallow soup bowls or on rimmed plates and spoon the stew over them.

Serves 4.

Per serving:   about 453 calories, 13g fat, 69g carbs, 13g fiber, and 18g protein.

My notes:

The stew came out much better this time.  Rather than getting my blender dirty, I moved half the soup to a bowl and used my stick blender to blend it.  It worked well, and the stew came out nice and thick–much better than last time.  I used dried chickpeas (not canned) and used the cooking liquid rather than some of the vegetable broth.  The bread I had was a light German rye bread with a fine crumb, and it wasn’t quite right.  It would have been better with a ciabatta style bread that would crisp up more.  The stew was nice even without the bread though.  The flavor was quite bright (even the next day).  It reminded me a little of a Mexican salsa verde, I guess because of all the cilantro,  the acid from the lemon juice, and the little bit of cumin flavor.  I used canned tomatoes but obviously fresh summer tomatoes would have been better.  This dish would also make a nice sauce to serve over rice or maybe pasta.

Although I like this recipe I think it needs a few tweaks to make it a real standout.  I’m just not sure what exactly it needs.  I feel like it needs a bit of a darker, roasted flavor to balance out the acidity and green flavors.  Or maybe a drizzle of cumin or roasted tomato flavored oil over the top? A few thin strips of sun dried tomatoes? Roasted pepitas?

Rating: B (Even though I liked this recipe more than the black bean and sweet potato dish, I can’t quite get myself to give it a B+.)

Derek: B+

Update June 2011:  I made this for dinner when Ahra and Gil came over and Ahra liked it a lot.  Derek wasn’t as excited about it this time though.  He was totally uninterested in the leftovers.  I felt the same as last time.

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