Winter and I are not friends. The clocks change, the days get shorter, and I can feel the anxiety building. For me, warmth is the enemy of anxiety. I spend much of my time from December through March trying to make myself as cozy as one can be in a drafty brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. I keep my feet toasty in a pair of shearling-lined moccasins and I often have a small blanket draped across my lap at my desk. But nothing warms me up or soothes my nerves like a midday bowl of homemade soup. It’s not just the steaming broth that calms me — it’s the ritual of standing in the kitchen, puttering and stirring for a few minutes. It's also a great routine to kickstart the new year.
Most great soup recipes require time to build flavor and bring the ingredients into harmony with one another. On the weekends, I will happily let a pot of Marcella Hazan’s pasta e fagioli or a lentil soup with sausage and kale cook for as long as it needs. But weekday lunch is a different affair. It needs to be ready quickly and still deliver a lot of flavor.
This lemony chickpea and greens soup with a crunchy panko topping gets the job done. It’s nourishing and healthful, comes together in about 20 minutes, and relies heavily on pantry ingredients you might already have on hand.
The base of the soup is essentially dressed-up chicken stock, so the quality of the stock is key. If you have some that’s homemade in your freezer, wonderful. If not, buy the best boxed or frozen stock you can, and make sure it’s low sodium so you don’t end up with a salt bomb.
Once you get the soup ingredients into the pot, use the 10-minute simmer time to prep your topping, which is really what makes the soup. I like to spoon a bit of it on top just before serving and bring the rest to the table in a small bowl, so I can sprinkle on more as I eat, ensuring continuous crunchy bites.
After you make this soup once, you will never need to look at the recipe again — it’s that simple. It’s also easily adaptable. Have some leftover roast or rotisserie chicken? Add it with the greens at the very end to warm it through. Out of panko but have some leftover sourdough sitting around? Toast a slice in some olive oil and serve it alongside your bowl.
You could probably make a big batch of the soup if you like, but I recommend keeping your batches small, so you have an excuse to leave your desk and warm up again in the kitchen later in the week.
Lemony Chickpea and Greens Soup
Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2 big servings
For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped shallot
¼ teaspoon chopped rosemary or thyme
1 pinch chili flakes
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Salt, to taste
2 cups roughly chopped kale or Swiss chard leaves
For the panko topping and serving:
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon, divided
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the shallots are translucent.
Add the rosemary or thyme, and chili. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the chickpeas and stir to combine, then the chicken stock. Season with salt. (Note: The saltiness of boxed chicken stock varies widely, so start with a pinch of salt; taste and adjust as needed.)
Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the panko and toast, tossing occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Combine in a small bowl with Parmesan and lemon zest.
When the soup is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the greens to let them wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice.
Ladle soup into a bowl and sprinkle on some of the topping. It’s best to bring the bowl with the remaining topping to the table so you can add more as you eat, maximizing the number of crunchy bites per serving.
Photographer: Paul Quitoriano
Food Stylist: Cesar Aldrete
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez