It’s no secret plant based eaters love beans, and Clean Food Dirty Girl is definitely not an exception. They’re savory, packed with nutrition, and come in tons of shapes, sizes, and flavors. We think all beans are rad, but heirloom beans are undoubtedly the best. If you’re not big on beans, it’s likely because you’ve never had an heirloom variety. We’re gonna spill the beans on heirlooms and share a recipe for Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup Using Rancho Gordo Beans, our favorite bean brand. The soup is unique, flavorful, and easy to make. So let’s get started.
What is an heirloom bean?
Heirloom produce, beans included, are non-hybrid varieties that date to before 1951 when hybrid and commercial vegetable crops became popular in the US. Some heirloom varieties have been grown for hundreds of years. They’re usually preserved by small farms, remote communities, and/or being passed through generations in families.
Why are heirloom beans so damn good?
In traditional farming, seeds from the best-tasting and most productive plants are saved each harvest to plant in the spring. Over time, this selection develops an extremely flavorful crop. On the other hand, modern commercial farming values consistency in size, shape, and color in addition to easy transportability and disease resistance over taste. There’s no comparison when it comes to flavor. The excellent taste, along with a growing interest in the sustainability of our food, is why heirloom varieties are making a comeback.
Cue Rancho Gordo, the leader in heirloom bean revival
One of the biggest names in heirloom beans is Rancho Gordo, based in Napa, California. They grow a huge variety, from ever-so-popular black and pinto beans to the uncommon Royal Corona. Their products are popular with omnis and vegans alike, and are often mentioned in our Facebook group. One of the things that drew their founder, Steve Sando, to beans is that most are indigenous to the Americas. He aims to help Americans connect more to the foods that originated here and increase access to better ingredients. Listen to his chat with Molly on our podcast.
Tasting the difference
We love all beans, but garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are definitely in our top five. They’re the traditional base for hummus and falafel, but they’re delicious just about any way you cook them. The flavor difference between conventional garbanzos and heirlooms is incredible. And we’ve got the perfect recipe featuring Rancho Gordo’s Garbanzo Beans for you to test out. Our Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup complements the beans’ slightly nutty flavor oh-so-well. It’s homey and comforting, with incredible flavors of Indian-inspired masala that will have your taste buds wanting more. You’re going to love it.
What’s inside our Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup
Rancho Gordo Garbanzo Beans: All Rancho Gordo beans are dried, but they’re typically fresher than what you’d find on conventional grocery store shelves, so they don’t need to soak as long before cooking, only two to six hours. If you’re in a rush, you can skip the soaking, but the soup will require an extra hour or two of simmering to cook the beans through. After the initial 15 minutes of simmering called for in the recipe, pop the lid on to prevent too much evaporation and keep the heat low. If you don’t have Rancho Gordo beans, you can substitute any dried garbanzo beans, which will require an overnight soak.
Coconut milk: This adds a creamy, velvety texture to your soup that cradles the spices and enhances their flavor. Look for canned full-fat coconut milk, and give it a good stir before measuring.
Tomato puree: Made from tomatoes that have been cooked briefly and then strained, giving them a thick, rich, and smooth consistency, tomato puree has a deeper, tangier flavor than tomato sauce and is thinner and less concentrated than tomato paste. If you can’t find it, you can substitute low-sodium or sodium-free canned tomato sauce (not ready-made pasta sauce; the only ingredient should be tomatoes). Note: Outside of the US, tomato puree may be known as purée, passata, or blended tomatoes.
Spices: Garam masala, cumin, ginger, turmeric, red chili flakes, and clove powder contribute a ton of flavor and elevate this soup from ordinary to extraordinary.
Let’s make Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup
Soak your garbanzo beans
First, get your beans soaking. Measure your Rancho Gordo Garbanzo Beans and pour them into a large bowl (one with a lid is ideal). This is a great time to sort through them with clean hands and remove any small stones or debris you see (these beauties were grown in the dirt, after all). Add enough water to cover the beans by at least two inches. Pop on a lid or cover with loose plastic wrap, and place the bowl in the fridge to soak for two to six hours.
If you’re using conventional beans, soak for at least six hours or overnight.
Once they’re done soaking, pour your beans into a strainer in your sink and rinse thoroughly. Tap the strainer against the side of the sink to remove any excess water.
Cook your garbanzo beans
We like to cook dried beans in the Instant Pot, but cooking on the stovetop is tried and true, too. Either way works, so choose your favorite and get those beans going.
This is our preferred method of cooking beans because it’s mostly hands-off and lets us focus on other things, like browsing Rancho Gordo’s website for beans…is 17 pounds of Mayocaba Beans too much? Asking for a friend.
As mentioned above, Rancho Gordo beans are typically fresher than the conventional options available in stores, so they don’t require as long to cook. Our cooking instructions reflect this. You can refer to this helpful Rancho Gordo Pressure Cooking Chart for times based on soaked/unsoaked beans. Note: A chart is a great place to start, but cooking times can vary, so always make sure your beans are done to your liking.
Place the soaked and rinsed beans in the inner pot along with the fresh water, pop on the lid, and lock it into place. Turn the steam nozzle to the sealing position.
Cook on high pressure for 10–14 minutes (or 35–45 minutes if not soaked). You’ll do this using the Manual mode on most Instant Pot models.
Once the timer goes off, use the natural release method. This means you want to let the pressure release naturally, so leave the steam nozzle in the sealing position, and wait until the lock disengages on its own. Remove the lid. Check that the beans are done by piercing one with a fork, allowing it to cool for a second, and doing a taste test. If the beans need more time, follow the same method above, but start with four minutes of cooking time.
Once done, strain and rinse your beautiful beans. If you’re not making your soup right away, allow them to cool to room temperature, put in an airtight container, along with an inch or two of fresh water, and store in the fridge. Drain them and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before starting the soup.
If cooking on the stovetop, add your beans to a large pot (we like to use a Dutch oven or a stockpot) along with your fresh water, and bring to a boil uncovered over medium-high heat.
Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, and place a lid on the pot at an angle. This is so some steam can escape without evaporating the water too quickly. Allow to simmer until the beans are totally soft, adding more water if needed (make sure the added water is hot, we recommend having a tea kettle on hand for this purpose, don’t add hot water from the tap).
It typically takes about 90 minutes for the beans to soften, but it can vary depending on your altitude, how long you soaked the beans, and how dry they were beforehand. You can test the doneness of the beans with a fork. If they feel soft when pierced, scoop up a small forkful, blow on them to cool them off, and then do a mouth test (this is an official term, and we won’t be taking questions). If they’re soft all the way through, and you like their firmness level, they’re done!
Strain and rinse your beans. If you’re not making your soup right away, allow them to cool to room temperature, put in an airtight container, along with an inch or two of fresh water, and store in the fridge. Drain them and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before starting the soup.
Time to make our soup
Let’s break out the blender! Add all the blender ingredients to the pitcher, and purée until mostly smooth. You can leave a few larger pieces of onion or go for totally silky—the choice is yours. You may need to blend in batches depending on the size of your blender.
Transfer the blender mixture to a stockpot or a Dutch oven. Add your cooked beans and diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your soup starts getting an attitude and splattering, place a lid on the pot at an angle.
After the 15 minutes have passed, stir in the spinach, coconut milk (remember to stir it before measuring), and cilantro. Let cook for an additional minute to blend everything together.
Turn off the heat, ladle that savory goodness into bowls, and enjoy.
Prevent your screen from going dark
Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup
After your beans have soaked, pour them into a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Tap the strainer against the sink to remove excess water.
Place the beans and 2¼ cups water into your Instant Pot (IP) and lock the lid into place, making sure the nozzle is in the sealing position.
Use the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode and set the timer for 10–14 minutes (Note: If not using Rancho Gordo beans, cook for 20 minutes). When the time is up, use the natural release method. Once all the pressure is out of the IP, take off the lid and strain and rinse the beans.
After your beans have soaked, pour them into a strainer and rinse and drain thoroughly. Tap the strainer against the sink to remove excess water.
Add the beans and the 4½ cups water to a pot, give a quick stir, and bring to a boil. When they reach a boil, turn down the heat, and place a lid on the pot at an angle. Simmer for about 90 minutes, or until the beans done. Cooking times can vary, they’re ready when nice and soft. Keep an eye on the water level and add boiling water if the level gets too low.
When done cooking, strain and rinse the beans.
Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup
Place all of the blender ingredients into your blender and puree, then transfer the mixture to a stockpot. (Blend in batches if your blender is too small.)
Add the cooked garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes to the stockpot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your soup starts splattering, place a lid on the pot at an angle while it simmers.
Stir in the spinach, coconut milk, and cilantro and cook for 1 additional minute.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with more cilantro, if desired. Dinner is served!
Whether you’re a seasoned bean lover or just dipping your toes in, our free Bean Book is sure to have something to delight and inspire you. It includes seven delicious recipes featuring beans and legumes.
Serving & storing suggestions
Serving: This recipe makes about eight cups of Chickpea Masala Tomato Soup, enough for at least four servings. We like to garnish it with more cilantro and serve with a sliced whole wheat baguette.
Storing: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days or freeze for up to three months. We like to freeze individual soup portions in large silicone freezer molds (if you purchase from this link, we receive a pinch of commission).
Have you fallen in love with heirloom beans or Rancho Gordo? Did this recipe inspire you to give them a try? Let us know in the comments below.
Here’s to the humble beauty of beans!