This healthy and hearty chicken and chickpea soup is full of nourishing comfort. It's made with lots of fresh vegetables and a mixed rice medley that gives it a creamy consistency resembling a stew. It's a perfect healthy comfort meal and couldn't be easier to make.
It's mid-January and it seems the weeks after the holidays, everyone feels the need to eat a bit lighter. So in our house it's been a lot of easy one pot meals and healthy soups and stews, like this hearty chickpea and vegetable soup I posted a few weeks ago or the one pot herb crusted cod and broccoli parmesan orzo I made recently.
These short days and long, cold nights of late have me feeling a bit low energy so easy meals that I can throw together quickly are essential. But I also want to make sure we're eating healthy. Soups are really that perfect intersection between health, ease, and supreme comfort.
I especially love this chicken and chickpea soup for how hearty and comforting it tastes, and it's sooo easy to make. Plus, very flexible to adaptations so you can make adjustments with what you already have in the fridge or pantry.
Another nice thing is that you can make a complete meal with about 6-7 servings using only one chicken leg. It's a great way to stretch meat so you get the flavor and satisfaction without needing a whole chicken leg per serving. Great all around.
This soup is made with just simple whole food ingredients combined to bring out maximum flavor.
Whole bone-in chicken leg with skin: This chicken and chickpea soup is made with one whole bone-in chicken leg. Bone-in chicken is best since the bone brings a lot of extra flavor to the broth. Likewise, skin adds a bit of fat which also brings flavor. When the soup is ready you just take the chicken leg out, remove the skin and shred the meat off with a fork (it will just met off the bone!) then put it back in. If you want to skip the chicken altogether, check out my recipe for hearty chickpea and vegetable soup - it's very similar but vegan!
Canned chickpeas: Canned chickpeas make the soup come together super quickly. You can also use pre-soaked dry chickpeas but then the soup will need at least 45 minutes in the Instant Pot or probably an hour on the stovetop. You will need to do a bite test to be sure when it's done.
Brown rice medley: I absolutely love adding mixed brown rice or mixed grains to soups. The starches from the rice disperse in the broth and give a nice creamy consistency without having to add any additional ingredients that could make the soup feel greasy or heavy.
Vegetables: I used a mix of red and yellow peppers, carrot and zucchini. This combination brings a nice vegetal sweetness to the soup and the peppers in particular add some nice flavor. Of course this is flexible and you can substitute other veggies you have on hand.
Aromatics: The aromatics in this soup are onions and leeks. They bring a lot of the flavor base to the soup. You could also add garlic if you like or even fresh ginger for a warmer flavor base.
Seasoning: The seasonings are fairly simple. There's just salt, pepper, fresh thyme, tomato paste and a low sodium bouillon cube. If you use a salty bouillon cube then make sure you adjust the salt accordingly. You can also substitute dried thyme for the fresh - no problem!
Oil: The oil is used to lightly brown the chicken and the aromatics before cooking the soup. This step introduces some caramelization which equals more complex flavor.
Mascarpone: I added a cheeky swirl of mascarpone as a finishing touch. This amplifies the creamy quality created by the rice. You can substitute heavy cream, non-dairy cooking cream or even sour cream - just make sure to mix it with a bit of the soup before adding it back in the pot so it doesn't curdle.. Also feel free to just skip this ingredient if you don't have anything that would work - the soup is delicious even without it!
I made this soup in my Instant Pot (the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 6-quart version).
If you have an Instant Pot or other electric or stove-top pressure cooker, then that's perfect.
If you don't then no worries it's easily adaptable. If no pressure cooker, then use a soup pot or Dutch oven that's at least 5.7 liters / 6 quarts.
For some dishes, the Instant Pot makes cooking faster (for example roast pork shoulder would take way less time) but for a soup it doesn't make a huge difference as far as time goes since it takes some time to come up to pressure. Just FYI in case you were wondering.
This chicken and chickpea soup couldn't be easier to make. All you need to do is add the oil to the pot, heat over medium-high and put in the chicken. If you're using the Instant Pot, use the sauté function for this step.
Let the chicken sear until it lightly browns (usually 3-4 minutes per side) and then remove it to a plate.
Put in the aromatics and sauté them until they're also starting to brown and they smell nice.
Then you just put everything in the pot except the mascarpone (this goes in at the end so it doesn't curdle from the heat).
When the soup is ready, take out a few tablespoons of the soup liquid and whisk it with the mascarpone (this is to make sure the mascarpone incorporates smoothly and doesn't leave chunks).
Then take out the chicken leg, remove the skin and shred the meat off the bone. Discard the skin and bone (or save in a stockpile to make bone broth if you like) and then put the shredded chicken back in the pot.
Pour the mascarpone mixture in and then give it a big ol' stir until it's all one nice and creamy color.
This chicken and chickpea soup is great with some nice bread. What's soup without bread! Being Romanian, I don't think I can eat soup without bread.
I also really love soup served with pickled hot peppers on the side - another Romanian habit but maybe other cultures do this too? Anyway if you haven't tried it and like spice, you should give it a try for sure. Nice options are pickled jalapenos, pepperoncini, or Romanian style pickled chilis called ciusca (you can see them in my recipe for Romanian meatball soup).
Hearty Chicken and Chickpea Soup (Instant Pot friendly)
- Instant Pot or a soup pot - just add 10 minutes more cooking time.
- 450 grams canned chickpeas one standard sized can (about 15oz)
- 300 grams chicken leg one whole bone-in chicken leg with skin (about 10oz)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup brown rice medley
- 1 yellow onion finely diced
- 1 leek washed and sliced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 zucchini cubed
- 1 yellow pepper finely diced
- 1 red pepper finely diced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 low-sodium bouillon cube or about 1 tablespoon of powder
- 2.5 teaspoons salt or more/less to taste
- 2.5 teaspoons black pepper
- 2.5 liters water or to fill line on 6 quart Instant Pot
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone
- Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat (if using Instant Pot then use sauté function).
- Sear the chicken on both sides until lightly browned (3-4 minutes) then remove it to a plate.
- Add the onion and leek to the pot and sauté until lightly browned.
- Put the chicken back in the pot along with everything else except the mascarpone.
- Cover and simmer over medium heat for 40 minutes on stove top or under pressure in the Instant Pot for 30 minutes.
- Once finished, spoon a few tablespoons of the soup into a small bowl and whisk it with the mascarpone, and set the bowl aside.
- Take the chicken leg out. Remove the skin and discard. Use two forks to shred the meat off the bone. Put the meat back in the pot along with the mascarpone mixture.
- Give the soup a really good stir to spread out the rice starch and cream so it distributes evenly. The color will go from reddish to a paler creamy color.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Maybe you want more salt or some fresh black pepper.