Spicy chickpea and bulgur soup

Contributed by Benjamin Maring, MD

Spicy chickpea and bulgur soup

Yearning for something comforting to take the chill off of a rainy day, I flipped through a wonderful vegetarian cookbook and found the perfect recipe.

This soup is a hearty mix of vegetables, legume and whole grain, with just the right amount of spice to warm you up. The chickpeas and bulgur wheat provide a good amount of fiber and protein, and are low glycemic index, so it won’t cause dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar. The recipe also fits squarely within the Mediterranean diet. Skip the cheese to make this a delicious vegan meal.  

Servings: 6

Prep time: 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons harissa paste (2 tbsp provide a fair amount of heat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground caraway (or whole seeds)
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained (about 3 cups)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
  • ¾ cup bulgur wheat
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Coarse Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery into similar-sized pieces. 
  2. Mince the garlic. 
  3. Heat a heavy-bottom soup pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Add the oil and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 8 minutes. 
  6. Stir in the harissa paste, cumin, coriander, and caraway and cook for another 2 minutes. 
  7. Stir in the chickpeas along with one teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. 
  8. Add the vegetable stock, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. 
  9. Meanwhile, rinse the bulgur wheat and cover in a saucepan with cold water. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat and drain. Rinse with cold water, and set aside. 
  10. Just before serving, stir the bulgur, cilantro, and lemon juice into the soup. The longer the warm soup sits with the bulgur in it, the less soupy it gets. You may need to add a little more stock or water to loosen it up. 
  11. Divide into soup bowls and sprinkle with some chopped cilantro and feta cheese, if using.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 275
  • Total fat: 9 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 7 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 50 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugars: 1.6 g
  • Sodium: 180 mg
  • Protein: 7 g