The perfect meal for Baby Boomers is a bowl of soup made with vegetables, whole grains, and/or beans. That’s because most soup is low calorie, hydrating and nutritious. It’s the best way to go on a diet without actually going on one. The Italians know how to make outstanding soup and this Tuscan Garbanzo Bell Pepper Soup recipe is no exception. It’s a combination of red onions, colorful bell peppers, carrots, potatoes and Italian tomatoes with protein-rich and fiber-filled garbanzo beans. (chickpeas)
Enjoy this garbanzo bell pepper soup and dream of a trip to Tuscany!
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 1 red and 1 green bell pepper cored, seeded and sliced
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 2 large potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 28 oz. can whole Italian tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped (or less if you’re not a big garlic fan)
- 1, 15 oz. can organic garbanzo beans
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 T fresh chopped thyme
- 4 slices of smoked bacon or fried bacon chopped (optional)
- Course natural sea salt (like Celtic or Pink Himalayan) and pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth – depending on what consistency you want.
- Italian parsley chopped (for garnish)
- Fresh grated Parmesan (optional)
- Heat the olive oil and sauté the red onion in a soup pot until it is golden.
- Add the diced potatoes, peppers, carrot, tomato, and garlic.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes start to get soft.
- Add the garbanzo beans, bay leaf, thyme, bacon, and broth.
- Simmer for 15 more minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley.
- Serve with fresh bread and top with Parmesan if desired.
Of course, the best place to enjoy this soup is in Tuscany itself
Tips for the best flavor
Somehow, Italian tomatoes have a taste all their own. For one thing, the Italians are adamant about picking natural vine-ripened tomatoes as opposed to forcing them to ripen like they do in the U.S. They’re also grown in volcanic soil, which gives them their stellar taste. That’s why I’m not opposed to using a can of imported Italian tomatoes, especially in the winter when vine-ripened tomatoes aren’t available.
I also used canned garbanzo beans. However, if you use dried garbanzos (like a true Italian) soak them overnight with a Tbsp. of baking soda and one Tbsp. of coarse salt. Then rinse them in cold water. Put the garbanzo beans in a saucepan and cover them with water or broth. Add the thyme, bay leaves, and smoked or fried bacon. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer it slowly for 2 hours. Add the sauce you’ve created to the soup after sautéing the vegetables.
There are two kinds of garbanzo beans
- Canned garbanzos, which and are cream colored and round are called “Kabuli.”
- “Desi” garbanzo beans are about 1/2 the size of “Kabuli” and their color ranges from tan to black.
Researchers have found that the antioxidants present in garbanzo beans are especially concentrated in the outer seed coat that gives the beans their distinctive color. The darker “Desi” type have thicker seed coats than the store-bought canned “Kabuli.” However, both contain antioxidants and have excellent health benefits.
The darker ones are worth giving a try.
I added bacon to the garbanzo bell pepper soup recipe below for flavor but it’s optional, especially if you want a purely vegetarian soup. Italians love pork and add it to many of their recipes. However, they age it naturally without adding nitrates. I used a natural, nitrate-free brand I found at the store.
Note: Don’t use fake bacon like bacon bits. Yuck! The point of smart eating is to stay away from anything processed. Or, in the case of bacon, minimally processed.
Despite the fact I took the easy way out using canned tomatoes and garbanzo beans, this soup turned out to be one of the tastiest I’ve made so far. It’s best served hot with artisan or homemade whole grain bread and you can top it with fresh grated Parmesan.
What’s your favorite type of vegetable soup? Please leave a comment below.