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Healthy Recipes: Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Lemon

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A Summer Soup Lively with Lemon

By Dana Jacobi 
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Too much tomato soup? You don’t have to be Campbell’s to know that's impossible. With readers always eager for more, I featured seven tomato soup recipes among my last three cookbooks and still have new ideas like this summery version.

Although it is served hot, this is still a good summer choice. Satisfying enough to be a meatless meal, it is also light and refreshing thanks to balancing its vegetables and chickpeas with lively lemon and vegetable broth.

Along with the lemon, using canned tomatoes is perhaps this soup’s biggest surprise. Why do this when locally grown tomatoes are at their prime? Even in summer, I like to have a quick meal handy from the pantry. True, onion, celery, carrot and leek are fresh, but most of us do have at least two of them around. If you are missing one or two, double the onion. Or toss in what you do have. That includes zucchini and frozen string beans or frozen corn – this is a pretty flexible dish. Getting back to canned tomatoes, they are always on hand, and you can subsitute diced or ground. Plus, canned tomatoes are quick and neat, with no chopping and cleanup.

Using lemon in two ways truly sets this tomato soup apart. The tang of its fresh juice both marries the flavors and lightens the soup. The charred lemon slice does more than look nice. Lemons contain sugar that caramelizes when you sear the slices in a hot pan. The resulting bittersweet taste and the aromatic flavor in the zest make this sunny Mediterranean-style soup distinctive compared to other tomato combinations.

Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Lemon

Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Lemon

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • l large rib celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sliced leek, white and 1-inch green parts
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (14-oz.) can no salt added whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 lemons

In large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until golden, 4 minutes, stirring often. Add carrot, celery, leek, and garlic, stirring to coat them with oil. Cook until leek slices are translucent and soft, about 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes one at a time, holding them over pot and crushing them in your fist. Add liquid from can. Add chickpeas, paprika and broth. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are almost tender, 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide hot soup among four bowls. Cut 1 lemon into quarters. Squeeze juice from a quarter into each bowl, straining out seeds. From center of second lemon, cut four 1/4-inch slices. Heat a dry cast-iron skillet or grillpan over high heat. Add lemon slices and cook until caramelized to brown and lightly charred in places, 1-2 minutes. Turn and cook for 1 minute. Set 1 lemon slice in center of each bowl and serve.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 1½ cups.

Per serving: 200 calories, 5 g fat (< 1 g sat fat), 34 g carbohydrates, 
10 g protein, 9 g fiber 461 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’sNew American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.



The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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