For the past few months I’ve been, like most of you, staying home as much as possible. My great “escape” during these months has been getting obsessed with all things of the Victorian-era: books, magazines, movies, TV dramas, anything I can get my hands on really!
So as I dug through yet another book of 19th century cookery, one recipe stood out to me for its unique combination of ingredients, as well as its potential to be made vegan with very little modification.
Vegan Chickpea Soup Recipe
I adapted this chickpea soup recipe from Soup à la Béarnaise, as seen in Charles Elmé Francatelli’s 1846 cookbook, The Modern Cook. You can read it for free on Archive.org.
If you’ve watched the Masterpiece TV drama series Victoria, you may remember Mr. Francatelli, the palace cook who flirts with Victoria’s dresser a.k.a. lady’s maid.
While it is true that Francatelli was Queen Victoria’s chief cook in 1840-42, the TV romance is not based on actual events (as far as we know!)
Francatelli’s cooking style was mostly French, and his chickpea soup recipe gets it’s name from Béarn, a region of southwestern France.
Here is how Francatelli’s recipe originally appeared in 1846:
What I Changed From The Old Recipe
The most obvious adaptation I made is using vegan butter instead of dairy butter, and skipping altogether on the Parmesan. I also used regular round cabbage instead of the white-heart cabbage, which I wasn’t able to find at my grocery store.
I also changed the method a bit just to cut down a bit on cook time. In the original recipe it says to soak the chickpeas (garbanças) overnight; I used the Instant Pot to quickly re-hydrate them.
Another modern time-saver I chose was to use a immersion blender and mesh strainer to refine the soup instead of pounding and rubbing it through a tammy (or tamis, as it is nowadays written).
To make the soup as I have done, you’ll need an immersion blender and something you can filter the soup through such as a mesh sieve, tamis, china cap/cone/chinois, etc. This will make the texture of the soup a lot smoother and give it a good body. You can make the soup without filtering but it will have a much different texture.
It’s worth it to remove the skins or hulls from the 1/2 cup of chickpeas that remain whole in the soup – it makes the soup easier to digest and less likely to make you bloated afterwards. We felt that this soup was very easy on our tummies compared to other bean soups.
Victorian Chickpea Soup (Vegan)
- Instant Pot
- Stick Blender
- Wire mesh sieve
- 1 cup dry chickpeas*
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 carrot
- ½ onion
- 4 stalks celery
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 4 Tbsp vegan butter
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Rinse the chickpeas and place them in the Instant Pot with 5 cups of water. Pressure cook for 45 minutes. (If using canned chickpeas, skip this step). Then drain the chickpeas and set aside.
- Finely dice the carrot, 1/2 an onion, and 4 stalks celery.
- In the Instant Pot using sauté or in a saucepan, add 2 Tablespoons of vegan butter and cook the shredded cabbage until it begins to brown. Add a few spoonfuls of the broth and continue cooking it until it is evenly golden brown and well-cooked. (Continue adding spoonfuls of broth as needed if it becomes too dry). Then remove the cabbage and set aside.
- In the Instant Pot using sauté or in a large soup pot, add another 2 Tablespoons of vegan butter and sauté the finely diced carrot, celery, and onion until golden.
- Add in the 1 teaspoon diced garlic and 2 roughly chopped tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes are broken down, about 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of the cooked chickpeas in a bowl of water and very gently rub to remove the hulls.
- Add the rest of the chickpeas and half of broth to the pot. Use an immersion blender to blend smoothly. Pass the soup through a mesh sieve to remove most of the roughage. Use a ladle to help push it through.
- Add the refined soup, the 1/2 cup of hulled chickpeas, the rest of the broth, and the cooked cabbage back into the pot and let it gently cook for about 10 minutes, covered but not pressurized (I used the soup button on my Instant Pot). Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper (or to taste). Serve with bread or crackers.
- You can replace the dry chickpeas with two 15oz cans of cooked chickpeas.