Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Potaje de Garbanzos (Spanish Chickpea Stew)

When my parents were visiting, my dad and I got to talking about a plate of potaje -- or traditional Spanish chickpea stew normally served during Lent-- he'd had a few days earlier. With a longing look in his eyes, he described the dish: "It was delicious and vegetarian. It had garbanzos, spinach, cod...". "Wait a minute! Cod? That's not a vegetable!", I replied. Obviously, my father knows that cod doesn't grow in the ground. I think the source of my his confusion was that, although still eat fish very rarely, he still considers me a vegetarian. That's why anything I would eat can, in his mind, be labeled as vegetarian.

The inclusion of cod (a fish I've never liked) wasn't the only reason I was less than thrilled by my father's mention of potaje. It was one of those dishes that my school's lunches ruined for me. I thought this damage to be irreversible, but just in case it wasn't I decided to make a truly vegetarian (vegan even!) version of this stew. I'm happy to report that there is such a thing as the right potaje for me and this is it.

Potaje de Garbanzos (Spanish Chickpea Stew)
Makes about 5 servings
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (you can definitely substitute a different colored bell pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • About 1 lb potatoes (I used about 3 smallish red ones)
  • 5-6 cups vegetable stock (I wanted my potaje more soupy, so I used 6)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups loosely packed spinach, chopped
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can chickpeas
  • Optional: 1 nori sheet, julienned
1.  In a pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Toss in the onions and saute them for about 5 minutes, or until tender but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for about another 3 minutes. Mix in the peppers and saute for approximately 4 minutes. Stir in the paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, toasting the spices for about a minute.
2.  Deglaze the pan by adding the tomatoes, broth, potatoes, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Cook the soup covered for 15-18 minutes or until the potatoes are just shy of done.
3.  Add the spinach, nori and chickpeas and simmer the stew for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Fish out the bay leaves and serve.


  1. Look delicious!!. But you have to include a little cod, not much. The taste is outstanding.

  2. Thanks but, Papa, COD IS NOT A VEGETABLE! Furthermore, I don't like it. Yo creo que me estas vacilando.