Next time you feel a cold coming on, try having a bowl of this vegan chickpea noodle soup, with lots of vitamin C rich parsley and lemon. Parsley over-winters well in the region I live in, so this is a great cold-weather option. The vegetables are flexible if you want to make it in other seasons, too.
Since there aren’t any tomatoes or other more flavourful additions going into the soup base, make sure to use a good vegetable broth here. I usually advocate for water making a fine base (store-bought stock cubes are mostly salt anyway, so you just need to season properly) but with a light broth like this one, you need good flavour building blocks.
Vegetable noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food. This is my replacement for the chicken noodle soup my mom taught me to make as a child, and it’s my go-to anytime I feel homesick or sad.
With a hint of sweetness from carrots and parsnips balanced out with a bite of lemon, it’s a great everyday recipe. There are a lot of variations you can take here – see the substitutions sections for notes, and use what’s available to you.
Scroll to the bottom of the post or click “skip to recipe” above to see the recipe card with full ingredient measurements and instructions.
Tips and Notes
Check the cooking time for the type of pasta you’re using. Once the soup comes to a boil, you want a full simmering time of fifteen minutes – add the pasta within that time frame so that it cooks through. Mine took seven minutes, for example, so I added it halfway through.
As mentioned above, a good broth will make all the difference here. The original recipe included mushrooms in the soup, but I didn’t love that after re-testing, so they’re out. I add mushrooms to my veg broth so the flavour is there without the often spongy texture they take on in soups.
With any soup, the most important thing is to season to your personal tastes. Think of the salt, and pepper, amounts as guidelines rather than set it stone. I typically add significantly more salt than listed – for almost all of my recipes – but the saltiness of the broth you use will also play a role. Taste before adding more.
Change up the vegetables to suit what you have on hand. I love frozen peas here, but we aren’t getting any frozen foods right now (grocery delivery) so they’ve been excluded. Leeks, celery, any root vegetables and greens you like, all good. I recommend keeping the carrots.
White beans are a good substitute for chickpeas. You could also use green or black lentils, but increase the amount of liquid slightly if they’re going directly into the broth.
I use spelt pasta, but any short variety is good here. Use a good gluten-free pasta for a GF option. You can also go for rice or another grain if preferred.
Switch out the parsley for oregano or cilantro, even basil. It’s possible to leave it out altogether if you prefer, but it does add a lot in terms of freshness (building blocks!).
I always add a bit of cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes to soup, but I often hear from readers that it’s too spicy (and that plain black pepper is too spicy). If you know that your heat tolerance is very low, omit the hot pepper and reduce the black pepper – or if you’re on the other end of that spectrum, increase it!
More Wintery Soups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, sliced (~300 grams)
- 1 medium parsnip, sliced (~230 grams)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable broth
- 250 grams (1 1/2 cups) cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed
- 150 grams (1 1/2 cups) short pasta
- 50 grams (2 cups) spinach or other greens
- A large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Zest of a lemon
- Juice of a lemon (~3 tablespoons)
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened.
Add the carrots and parsnip. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook another 30 seconds.
Pour the broth into the pot and add the chickpeas. Cover, then increase the heat and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Once the soup has reached a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes*.
Check the cooking time needed for your pasta and add it partway through the simmering time. Most short pasta types will need 6-7 minutes.
Once the pasta is cooked, the carrots and parsnip should be fork-soft. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the spinach, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Taste and season if needed.
Serve hot, topped with extra parsley and lemon zest if desired. Leftovers keep for a couple of days (see note below).
* My vegetables are cut to 1cm thickness. If yours are larger, you may need a longer cooking time. If you're unsure, cook the soup until the vegetables are softened before adding the pasta - it won't do any harm.
• If you're planning on storing the soup in the fridge for a day or two, I recommend cooking the noodles separately as they'll get soggy and overcooked if left sitting in the soup. Reduce the liquid by 500 ml (2 cups) if cooking the pasta separately. The same goes for freezing.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 181Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 903mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 7gSugar: 6gProtein: 8g
This data is provided by a calculator and is a rough estimation of the nutritional information in this recipe.
This post was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated most recently as of March 2021.