Now is the perfect weather to enjoy a nourishing bowl of garbanzo bean soup! But honestly, we make this Cuban garbanzo bean soup year-round… and I live in sunny Miami. This bean soup is very simple to make and tastes so, so good. So filled with meat and veggies, it’s hearty enough to be a meal. I like to have a nice big bowl with a bit of bread on the side. It’s comfort food at its best!
Bean soups are a big part of Cuban cooking, including black beans, red beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, you name it. This may seem surprising considering that Cuba is a tropical island. You’d think it would be too hot to have soups all the time, but it’s a perennial side dish in Cuban meals. In fact, if you go to a Cuban restaurant, you’ll find bean soups are on the menu as a side or as the soup of the day… always.
If you’re not familiar with garbanzo beans, they are chickpeas. There’s no difference between garbanzo beans and chickpeas.
What Goes Into This Garbanzo Bean Soup
This soup has a little bit of everything! It’s packed with ham and chorizo, potatoes, pumpkins, and cabbage. I like using ham hocks or smoked ham chops because the smoky flavor of the ham chops really adds a little kick to this soup.
Do you know what else adds a big flavor kick? The chorizo! You just need one link, but the spicy flavor of the chorizo is a big part of this soup. The chorizo in this soup is Spanish chorizo, not the Mexican version. Spanish chorizo is cooked and cured, and sold in small links. The flavor is similar to pepperoni, and you can usually find it in the same section in the grocery store.
This garbanzo bean soup also has pumpkin and potatoes. The sweetness of the pumpkin and the mild flavor of the potato complement the spicy chorizo perfectly. The pumpkin is softer than the potatoes and tends to dissolve into the soup, which is nice because it gives it a little extra body and creaminess. If you don’t want the pumpkin to dissolve, make sure to cut it into bigger chunks.
I love the cabbage in this soup, too! I use about a cup of cabbage cut into one-inch pieces. You can add more if you like it. Or, you can just add a small wedge, so it’s easier to remove it if not everybody likes it. My stepfather is not too fond of it, so my mom tends to leave it as a wedge. But when Mami and I made this soup for the blog, we cut up the cabbage, and he liked it just fine. So chop it! Veggies are good for you 💚
The spices in this garbanzo bean soup include paprika, thyme, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, culantro and aromatics such as onions, peppers, and garlic. It’s got all the goods, baby! If you’re not familiar with culantro, it’s a large leaf often used in Caribbean and Latin cooking. You should be able to find it where the fresh herbs are found. If not, you can omit it.
How To Cook Garbanzo Beans
First of all, I always soak the beans for a few hours or overnight before cooking them. Then, you can cook them on the stovetop or use the Instant Pot or a pressure cooker. I made my soup in the Instant Pot .
Rinse the soaked beans and add to a pot with water. I use about eight cups of water for one fourteen-ounce package of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, same thing). Add the ham, half an onion, 1/3 green pepper, three garlic cloves, and bay leaves to the water. Do not cut the onions, peppers, or garlic cloves. We’re going to remove them once the beans are cooked. Now, cook the beans until they’re softened. This should take about an hour on the stovetop and thirty-five minutes in the Instant Pot .
Once the beans are softened, remove the onions, peppers, garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Sauté chopped onion, crushed garlic cloves and green peppers with olive oil until translucent and soft. Then, add the spices (paprika, thyme, oregano, cumin and another bay leaf) and tomato sauce and cook for another minute or so. Add the sauteed mix to the beans and throw in the chopped cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin, and chorizo. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for about thirty minutes more, and you’re done! If you’re using the Instant Pot , just set it on sauté.
Enjoy with some soft Cuban bread croutons and a drizzle of olive oil. Or add a few spoonfuls of white rice. Cubans love it that way too. ¡Buen provecho!Print
Hearty garbanzo bean soup (chickpea soup) is a very popular Cuban dish made with ham, chorizo, pumpkins and cabbage. Total comfort food!
14 ounces dry garbanzo beans or chickpeas
8 ounces smoked ham chops (you can use ham hocks too)
1 chorizo sausage link (about an ounce, give or take)
8 ounces red potatoes
8 ounces pumpkin
1 cup chopped green cabbage
1 medium yellow onion
2/3 green bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 bay leaves
2 culantro leaves
6 garlic cloves
½ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
8 cups water
Soak the garbanzo beans for four hours or overnight.
Rinse the beans and add them to the Instant Pot with 8 cups of water. Add half the onion, 1/3 green bell pepper, 3 garlic cloves, culantro leaves, bay leaves and ham. Do not cut the onion and leave the pepper in one large chunk and the garlic cloves whole. We are going to remove these things once the beans are softened.
Cook in the Instant Pot for 35 minutes on high pressure. If you’re cooking on the stovetop, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour or until the beans are softened.
While the soup cooks, prep the vegetables.
Chop the other half of the onion, crush the garlic. You can chop the bell pepper or leave it whole. I don’t like the pepper in my soup so I leave it whole so I can avoid it or remove it. Chop the cabbage into one-inch pieces and peel and cut the potatoes and pumpkin into small chunks (about 1 ½ inches pieces). Also, slice the chorizo into ¼ inch slices. Measure out the spices.
Once the beans are softened, remove the onions, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and the culantro and bay leaves. If you want to, you can cut up the ham into bite-size pieces.
Add the olive oil to a sauté pan on medium heat. Once heated, sauté the onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, paprika and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the mix to the beans, along with the chorizo, vegetables and another bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes and pumpkin are cooked through. If you’re using an Instant Pot, saute for 25 minutes.
Serve with some soft croutons and a drizzle of olive oil. Or serve with a hearty slice of buttered bread. It’s comfort food!
Prep time does not include soaking the beans.
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