Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup

I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013!

Soup. I make it all the time and yet I rarely make it the exact same way twice. Soup is often an exercise in thriftiness…a way for me to use up vegetables, etc. that are “on their way out”. At other times, it’s just an easy way to combine various ingredients into a nourishing meal.

Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup | Healthy Green Kitchen

This Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup is both thrifty and easy/nutritious. It’s not quite vegan/vegetarian due to the pancetta (and the chicken stock, if you use it), but these can definitely be left out if you don’t do meat. The recipe come from Alice Waters’ new book The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden.

The Art of Simple Food II

I love this book: it’s a wonderful volume of recipes spotlighting seasonal produce. There’s also an extensive section on starting or expanding a garden…reading through it has me already longing for next year’s garden. If you have a vegetable lover in your life, you should gift them with this book (or gift it to yourself…you will adore it!).

Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup | Healthy Green Kitchen

Broccoli rabe can be a little bitter, but there’s nothing wrong with bitter! In fact, many of us would do well to include more bitter foods in our diets. Bitter foods are excellent for your digestion :)

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Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup | Healthy Green Kitchen

Related recipes:
Moroccan Style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew from The First Mess
Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup from Cookie and Kate
Lentil Stew from Nourished Kitchen
Lentil Soup with Lemon Yogurt Cream from So…Let’s Hang Out

Disclosure: The generous folks at Clarkson Potter sent me my copy of The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden to review. This post contains affiliate links. When you shop on via one of my links, I receive a small commission. Thank you!

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Recipe for Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup


  • *2 teaspoons olive oil
  • *2 slices pancetta chopped fine
  • *2 small carrots peeled if not organic and diced
  • *1 fennel bulb trimmed and diced (or use 2 celery stalks, diced)
  • *1 onion diced
  • *4 oregano sprigs or use the leaves from a couple of thyme sprigs
  • *pinch of dried chile flakes
  • *sea salt
  • *4 garlic cloves
  • *2 cups cooked chickpeas or slightly more
  • *2 cups chickpea cooking liquid or water if you used canned chickpeas
  • *2 cups water vegetable, or chicken stock
  • *1 bunch of broccoli rabe or slightly less if your bunch is giant, washed, drained, and coarsely chopped
  • *drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil I added a little balsamic vinegar, as well
  • *freshly ground black pepper if desired


  • 1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • 2. Add the carrots, fennel or celery, onion, herbs and chile flakes and cook, stirring now and then, for about 12 minutes. Turn down the heat if the vegetables start to brown too quickly. When they are cooked add the salt, garlic, and chickpeas.
  • 3. Add the chickpea cooking liquid or water and the additional water or stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, adding more liquid if necessary, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • 4. Add the greens to the soup and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, if desired (my addition). Add freshly ground black pepper, too, if you like.

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6 thoughts on “Chickpea, Fennel, and Broccoli Rabe Soup”

  1. Oooh Winnie, this soup looks so perfect. I am chilled to the bone today and looking forward to a big bowl of soup for dinner.
    On another note, Broccoli Rabe is extremely bitter to me, and I love bitter greens. The only way I can eat it is with lots of lemon or vinegar. My husband skews that way on kale and swiss chard. Do you know anything about acids combatting bitterness in foods?

    • Well the reasons I added a little balsamic vinegar to this soup is a. I do feel the acid (but also slight sweetness) tempers the bitterness. b. The acid helps you absorb the iron in the greens. So I say add the lemon juice and vinegar for sure! Cooking the greens slightly longer may help with the bitterness, too :)

  2. I have the first volume of this book and love it. That soup looks so comforting. I’d love a bowl with a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled over the top :-)

  3. Well, I’m making this soup this week. You have some of my favorite veggies here… in fact, I just cooked with broccoli rabe. Such an under-appreciated vegetable.