Chickpea & Saffron Stew

A smoky tomato soup made with spinach, chickpeas and spices. Vegan and gluten free.

Chickpea & Saffron Stew //

It’s good to be home. After a busy (and very social) week at Alt Summit, it was nice to come home and spend some quiet time over the stove.

Unlike many of the recipes I make here, this one is an old friend. It’s my take on Espinacas con Garbanzos… and has been a favorite ever since our first trip to Barcelona.

But the real thing it has going for it is that it’s largely a pantry meal. Because who feels like going to the store right after they get off the airplane? Not me, that’s for sure.

Chickpea & Saffron Stew //


chickpea & saffron stew

Serves: serves 3-4
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots (or 1 small onion), chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 teaspoons paprika (I used a combo of sweet & smoked, but use what you have)
  • 2-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar (depending on how much tang you like)
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, use the tomatoes only, not the juice
  • 2 or so teaspoons saffron
  • pinches of red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups fresh chickpeas (or 2 cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • salt & pepper
  1. Drain tomatoes (save the juice they were in for something else). Place the whole tomatoes in a small bowl and gently break them apart with your hands. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions and a few pinches of salt. Let the onions cook on low to medium heat until translucent. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, cumin & paprika, and cook for about 30 seconds more (don't let them burn).
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and stir, getting off any small bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add tomatoes and cook (they should be bubbling) for another minute or so. Add the saffron, red pepper flakes, chickpeas & broth. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so.
  5. Stir in the spinach and let it wilt down for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. I usually add another tablespoon or two of sherry vinegar for more zing, but if zing isn't your thing, you can leave it be.
  6. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine.
  7. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers - this is one that tastes better the next day.


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  1. sheila

    Hey! Is it possible sub apple cider vinegar for the sherry vinegar?

    • jeanine

      Hi Sheila, I’m not sure – I haven’t tried it. I would probably use white wine vinegar before apple cider vinegar if you have it (in my opinion it’s more similar). That being said, if you give it a try, I’d maybe use a lower quantity (1-2T, instead of 2-4)…

  2. TrySomethingNew

    I really love this recipe. I make it all the time as it’s super convenient and yummy. One thing I’ve started doing is adding grey squash or zucchini and carrots in as well. It makes it a little fuller and stew like.

    • jeanine

      thanks for letting me know! Mmm, sounds delicious with squash, zucchini and carrots 🙂

  3. hjli from

    Love this recipe! Just made it. I did substitute the saffron with curry powder though because I was on a tight grocery budget but next time, I’m definitely going to “splurge” on saffron.

    I also let the dish reduce quite a bit on the stove because I’m not a big fan of thin liquids in stews.

    • jeanine

      so glad you liked it! I know, saffron is a splurge and I don’t always have it around either 🙂

  4. Tonight I tried one of your recipes for first time. My husband and I have been eating “almost vegan” since the fall except we just couldn’t eat most of the cheese substitute. We too loved cheese. Meat we haven’t missed much and we planned to still eat it occasionally if it’s truly nutritious like Bison or caught in the wild Salmon. So finding recipes that we liked has been challenging but in reading your site I really got the impression you care about the food not just being healthy but appealing to the palate so I selected 5 or more and off to the grocery store I went this morning. I made this tonight and was late home from work and had to make it whi’e my husband talked to me and my daughter hurt her knee which isn’t easy when I’m tired. I subbed one can of garbanzo beans for a can of cannelini. And I swore I had a lot of vegetable broth but didn’t and had to use some veggie bouillon cubes for first time. And it still turned out great! I used spinach from my garden that I overwintered that was about to bolt and it tasted fine. So whew we’re off to a good start. Thanks I look forward to trying the next one!

    • jeanine

      Hi Rebecca,

      So glad you liked it and were able to adapt it using what you had on hand… Great to hear that you and your husband are eating healthier together! Yes, I think above all else, food has to taste good even if it’s “healthy.”

  5. Jaylene

    I made this last night for my family and it was delicious. Extremely flavorful broth!!! I constantly find myself adjusting the spices in any given recipe, but this was spot on. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Melissa from

    What a warming a comforting bowl of goodness. I can’t wait to tuck into a bowlful myself. Yum

  7. I recently cooked with saffron for the first time and loved the flavor! It’s so odd and beautifully light. This stew is delicious-looking, simple way to highlight the flavor… lovely as usual! aloha from Oahu, Andrea

  8. Clem from

    Oh this sounds perfect right now. Any chick pea stew is something to have in the back of your mind when you don’t want to go grocery shopping. I usually substitute something called “Spigol” for saffron, I know it’s easily found in France but I’m not sure about the US…

  9. Maria from

    I want this for lunch! It is snowing and this looks like it will warm me right up!

  10. Kate from

    I’ve been mowing down chickpeas in many forms and dishes and can declare myself completely HOOKED on those little orbs. Every recipe I come across for them just makes my eyes glaze over. But I suppose there are far worse things to be obsessed with, hmmm?

    And having come in to a large quantity of saffron (WIN!), this recipe is going to the top of my ‘MAKE NOW’ pile.

  11. Laura from

    Ah, this is exactly what I crave in the super-grey January-February stretch around here. Pantry meals are definitely your friend and this one sounds so great. Your recommendation of serving it with a glass of wine is spot on 🙂

  12. Lauren from

    Looks delicious! I love pantry meals, and I froze half of the chickpeas from my latest batch, so this just may have to go on next week’s menu…

  13. Ashley from

    That spoon!! Such a beautiful handle. Also, I definitely want to face plant into that bowl of stew right now. I’m freezing + still need dinner!

  14. Sarah from

    This is perfect comfort food for me. It ticks all the boxes of being easy to eat with a spoon, out of a bowl, while slumped on the couch.

  15. Kathryn from

    This is exactly what I want to eat right now, it looks stunning & I bet it tastes even better. Welcome home!

  16. Annie from

    A couple of questions about the recipe – when do you add the chickpeas? Also, do you recommend anything to substitute for the saffron? Thanks!

    • jeanine

      Hi Annie, I just updated the recipe to include the chickpeas (oops!). I don’t think anything substitutes the taste of saffron, but this would be delicious if you just add more of the smoked paprika & cumin… taste & add to your liking.

  17. Kimberly

    Have you ever tried substituting the tomatoes with anything else? The recipe looks wonderful, but I have to avoid tomatoes (as well as potatoes).

    • jeanine

      actually, when I ate Espinacas con Garbanzos in Spain it actually didn’t have tomatoes in it. It was less of a soupy stew than what I made here, more of a side dish, but still really good.

      So I would do this… add the chickpeas when the onions are done so they get some browning on them by cooking in the oil on the bottom of the pan. Then gradually add some broth to thicken it, but you might not need 2 cups. Add the spinach until it wilts. Taste and alter the seasonings because the amounts might be different. And you might want to add a few squeezes of lemon.

  18. It’s a perfectly overcast day here in Phoenix, I think I’ll enjoy this simple soup for a light dinner. I even have some fresh saffron on hand!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.