Turkish Chickpea & Lamb Soup

Turkish Chickpea & Lamb Soup

This recipe was inspired by a hearty lamb and chickpea soup from Turkey. Finishing it with a dollop of pistachio-mint pesto adds another layer of flavor.

From EatingWell: March/April 2010
Yield: 6 servings, about 1 2/3 cups each
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours (plus soaking time for chickpeas)



  1. 3/4 cup dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed
  2. 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 1 large onion, chopped
  4. 2 medium carrots, diced
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  8. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  9. 1 1-pound lamb shank, trimmed
  10. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  12. 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  13. 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  14. 2 bay leaves
  15. 1/2 cup bulgur (see Note), rinsed
  16. 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pistachio-Mint Pesto

  1. 1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves
  2. 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  4. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  6. 2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)


  1. To prepare soup: Place chickpeas in a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches and let soak for 8 to 24 hours. (Alternatively, place chickpeas in a large saucepan and cover with 3 inches cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 hour.) Drain.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 4-quart or larger pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Remove from the heat.
  3. Sprinkle lamb shank with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. Add the lamb shank and cook, turning from time to time, until browned all over, 3 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the pressure cooker. Add broth, tomatoes, bay leaves and the chickpeas.
  4. Secure the pressure cooker lid. Bring to high pressure over high heat following manufacturer’s directions. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting that maintains high pressure. Cook for 35 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, place bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing out excess water.
  6. Let the pressure release naturally. This will take 5 to 20 minutes.
  7. To prepare pesto: Meanwhile, process mint, pistachios and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add oil, lemon juice and yogurt through the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a paste. If using unsalted pistachios, add salt, if desired.
  8. When the pressure has released, discard bay leaves. Skim fat from the surface of the soup. Using tongs, transfer the lamb shank to a clean cutting board. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred the lamb meat and return it to the soup. Add the drained bulgur. Heat through. Stir in lemon juice. Dollop some pesto onto each serving.

Tips & Notes


Nutrition Per Serving: 329 calories; 13 g fat (2 g sat, 8 g mono); 21 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrates; 18 g protein; 10 g fiber; 664 mg sodium; 748 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (95% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Iron (33% dv), Potassium (21% dv), Zinc (18% dv)

2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 1/2 lean meat, 2 fat