Hearty Spanish-Style Chickpea Rice Soup with Kale

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by Maggie Turansky

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In Spain, lunch is the big meal of the day and it’s really common for local bars and restaurants to offer daily set menus that typically consist of a soup or salad, a main dish, a dessert or coffee and a drink all of the low price of around €8-12. And oftentimes, the soup option is something incredibly similar to this hearty chickpea soup.

I was inspired by Spanish flavours when developing this recipe as, honestly, the Spaniards can really do magical things with chickpeas.

I was looking for something that, though maybe a little time-consuming, was relatively easy to make. And as I always do with soup, I also wanted to develop a recipe where I could make a big batch and then freeze it for future use.

Chickpea & Rice Soup with Kale
Chickpea & Rice Soup with Kale

How to Make Chickpea Soup with Rice

This soup starts the same as a lot my soup recipes – particularly my root vegetable soup – where I sautee finely chopped celery, carrot and leek. If you don’t have leeks, go ahead and just a finely chopped onion here.

To add a deep meaty flavour to the soup, I also recommend adding in a couple of anchovy fillets here. This will not add any fishiness, but it will add to the overall complexity and umami to the finished soup. However, if you want to make the soup vegetarian, then go ahead and leave it out.

Key ingredients for this soup
Key ingredients for this soup

Cook the aromatics and anchovies for about 15 minutes, you want them to release a lot of their moisture and take on a caramelised flavour.

At this point, the anchovies will be almost – if not completely – dissolved. Don’t skip out on this step – it’s really essential to developing the deep flavour of the soup.

Adding the celery, carrot, leek & anchovy
Adding the celery, carrot, leek & anchovy

To the veggies, add a healthy amount of chopped garlic and some tomato paste. Go ahead and cook this until fragrant and the tomato paste begins to darken, just a few more minutes.

Then, add in some fresh chopped thyme, oregano and a good amount of lemon zest. This is also the time to add in some cumin and smoked paprika – two really iconic Spanish flavours and their addition to this soup really makes it taste as though there is chorizo added to it!

Adding the spices & herbs
Adding the spices & herbs

Also throw in some chili flakes and cook for just a few minutes – you want to get everything nice and flavourful. Then, add some rice and stir to coat in everything. I used brown basmati rice when developing this recipe, but you really can use any kind of rice you have in your pantry.

To the rice, also add in some drained and rinsed chickpeas and stir to coat in everything before pouring over some vegetable stock (use homemade or low-sodium!) and some fish sauce.

Stirring in the rice & chickpeas
Stirring in the rice & chickpeas

The latter ingredient may seem a bit odd, but much like the anchovies, it adds to the depth and complexity of the soup.

If you don’t want to use it, you can also sub soy sauce. If you omit both the anchovies and the fish sauce, then you will also be able to make this soup vegan.

Bring the soup to a vigorous simmer and allow it to bubble away for about 20-25 minutes. You want to make sure the rice is completely cooked through and the chickpeas are nice and tender.

So just make sure to test it periodically – it may take less time or more time just depending on the variety of rice you use.

Pouring in the stock
Pouring in the stock

Once the rice is cooked, go ahead and stir in a good amount of lemon juice and a touch of sherry vinegar to add a bright touch of acidity. Taste the soup to adjust for seasoning here, adding more salt or pepper (or acid) where needed.

Now, if you do want to freeze the soup, now is the time to portion it out and do it! Much like my harira or pasta e fagioli, the soup is much better when the greens are added fresh.

Stirring in the kale
Stirring in the kale

If you’re not freezing or saving the soup, go ahead and add some fresh chopped kale to the soup. Stir to combine and let the soup simmer until the kale is wilted and tender, only a few more minutes.

Chickpea Rice Soup

Spanish-Style Chickpea Rice Soup with Kale

This hearty soup is packed with Spanish-inspired flavours including earthy cumin and the punch of smoked paprika. It is easy to make and the perfect dish to warm up a cold day.
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Servings 6
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1-2 stalks celery very finely chopped
  • 1 carrot very finely chopped
  • 1 leek finely chopped
  • 1-2 anchovy fillets optional
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest from about 1 lemon
  • tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 100 g (½ cup) rice (see note 1)
  • 2 (400g/14oz) cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 litres ( cups) vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (see note 2)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice from about 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 100 g (4 cups) kale torn from stems & thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley minced


  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a large pot and set over medium heat. Once shimmer, add the celery, carrot and leek along with the anchovy fillets (if using) and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have reduced considerably in size, are beginning to brown and caramelise and the anchovies have dissolved – about 15 minutes.
    Adding the celery, carrot, leek & anchovy
  • Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes longer, just until very fragrant and the tomato paste takes on a darker colour.
    Adding the garlic & tomato paste
  • Add the thyme, oregano, lemon zest, cumin, smoked paprika, chili flakes and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine and cook until very fragrant, about 30 seconds longer.
    Adding the spices & herbs
  • Add the rice and stir to combine in the vegetable mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes before adding the chickpeas and stirring to combine.
    Stirring in the rice & chickpeas
  • Pour over the vegetable stock, add the fish sauce and a few generous pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked completely through and the chickpeas are very tender – about 20-25 minutes.
    Pouring in the stock
  • Once the rice is cooked, stir in the lemon juice and sherry vinegar. Taste to adjust for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, lemon juice or fish sauce as you see fit. Add the kale and stir until fully submerged in the soup. Cook for a few more minutes, just until the kale is tender and reduced in size. Stir in the parsley and serve.
    Stirring in the kale


  1. Use any kind of dried rice you’d like here. I used brown basmati when developing the recipe, but any variety that suits your own tastes will do.
  2. If you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian, then omit the anchovy and replace the fish sauce with an equal amount of soy sauce.


Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 0.4mg | Sodium: 285mg | Potassium: 436mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2.442IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 4mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

Tried this recipe or have questions?Click here to leave a comment!

And now your soup is ready to serve! This hearty chickpea and rice soup is so flavourful and so wholesome that you’re sure to be making it throughout the colder months.

Are you after a great Spanish-style soup recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More

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