This spicy tomato chickpea soup is super easy to make and consists of pantry staples. Inspired by Mexican tortilla soup, it features cumin, lime, and cilantro.
For a long time, I steadfastly held on to the belief that I don’t like soup. Growing up, my mom would force-feed it to us, night after night, as the first course of our dinner. (This Soviet habit was born out of poverty, since soup is a great way to stretch a small amount of ingredients to feed a lot of people, thanks to the addition of our good [and free!] friend, water.)
Her intentions were good, of course, but most of the time, I just wanted to skip to the solid food. Some of her soups I genuinely loved (pea <3) while others, I couldn’t stand (sorry, borscht). So you see, after 20-something years, I was pretty sick of soup…
When I moved out and started cooking for myself, there was – understandably – no soup in sight. It wasn’t until years later that my childhood trauma subsided and I made a conscious decision to experiment with it on my own terms. These days, I’m happy to report it’s a regular part of my repertoire.
For me, a winning soup is either smooth and velvety (like this mushroom number), or hearty and packed with different textures (like massaman curry). Magically, this tomato chickpea soup fits into both categories.
What’s In This Tomato Chickpea Soup
This healthy Mexican-inspired soup has a classic mirepoix base (onion, carrots, celery) along with lots of garlic, ground cumin, and chili flakes. The broth is made of crushed tomatoes and veg stock, and chickpeas and potatoes thicken the soup and add texture. It turns out tangy (thanks to tomatoes and lime), a bit spicy (from chili flakes), and fragrant with cumin and garlic.
The secret to striking the balance between creamy and chunky here is pureeing half of the soup (whether in a standard blender or with an immersion blender), then combining the blended and chunky halves back together. This results in a thick, velvety soup that still has some texture.
Tortilla Crisps = The Ultimate Soup Garnish
Fresh tortilla crisps (corn tortillas brushed with oil, sliced into strips, and baked) are nutty, crunchy, and totally irresistible. If you have a few minutes to spare, don’t skip them!
You can sprinkle them on your bowl to give this soup some textural contrast, or stir them into the pot and let them hang out for a while so they get soggy for a tortilla soup vibe. Both are equally delicious. For a speedier option, use store-bought tortilla chips (although they’ll be a lot saltier).
Tomato Chickpea Soup, Step-by-Step
Make the Base: To start, heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the diced onions, carrots, and celery, plus salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. The goal is just to “sweat” the veg, not brown them. Then add the garlic and spices, and cook for a few seconds more.
Add the Liquids: Add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and lime juice. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
Simmer the Soup: Add the potatoes and canned chickpeas, and simmer gently – with the lid ajar – until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Make the Tortilla Crisps (optional): While the soup simmers, brush a few corn tortillas with oil and cut into thin strips. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake until they’re golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Finish the Soup: Ladle about half of the soup into a separate container and set aside. Puree the remaining half of the soup in a standard upright blender (see safety instructions in the recipe card below) or with an immersion blender. Lastly, stir both halves of the soup back together, taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed. (If you don’t have a blender, you can leave the soup unblended for a less-creamy texture).
Make-Ahead and Freezing Tips
This vegan soup is perfect for meal prep since it keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. For longer term storage, cool completely, transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container (like a deli container), and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge before re-heating.
More soup this way…
- Smoky Tempeh Chili
- The Easiest Broccoli-Potato Soup
- Vegetarian Moqueca with Plantains and Hearts of Palm
- Vegan Pea Soup with Garlicky Croutons
This spicy tomato chickpea soup is super easy to make and consists of simple everyday ingredients. Inspired by Mexican tortilla soup, it features cumin, lime, and cilantro.
For the Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 small (or 1 large) celery stalks, diced
- 1 medium red or yellow onion, diced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (see note below)
- One 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
- Fresh cilantro and diced avocado, for serving
For the Tortilla Crisps (optional, see note below)
- 4 taco-size corn tortillas
- About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of fine sea salt
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add the carrots, celery, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
- Add the tomatoes, 4 cups broth, and 2 tablespoons citrus juice. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and chickpeas, and simmer with the lid ajar until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.
- While the soup simmers, make the tortilla crisps (optional). Heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1 tortilla on a cutting board and lightly brush both sides with oil. Place another tortilla on top of the greased one and brush the top with oil; continue stacking and brushing all tortillas. Slice the stack into 1/3-inch strips. Transfer to a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until the tortillas are lightly brown and crispy, flipping once halfway through baking, about 15 minutes.
- When the soup is ready, ladle about half into a separate container and puree the half remaining in the pot with an immersion blender (see below for upright blender instructions). Combine both halves, taste, and adjust the seasonings, if needed. (If you don’t have a blender, you can leave the soup unblended).
- Serve topped with cilantro, avocado, and tortillas.
- For a lower-carb version, sub the potatoes with cauliflower.
- For a speedier option, top the soup with crushed store-bought tortilla chips (although they’ll be a lot saltier).
- Upright blender safety: Since the soup is hot, it’s important that the steam has a way to escape the blender while you puree. Remember to take out the removable center of the blender lid before blending. If the steam is trapped inside, the lid will blow off when you start blending and you may burn yourself (not to mention, get soup all over your ceiling).
- Serving Size: 1/8 of the recipe – without toppings
- Calories: 180
- Fat: 4.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 31 g
- Fiber: 7.5 g
- Protein: 6.1 g
Keywords: mexican, vegan, tomato, chickpea, soup