Cream of Garbanzo Beans Au Gratin

by Patricia Eddy on September 27, 2011

Cream of Garbanzo Bean Au Gratin

When I was growing up, chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) were these cold and slimy things that my mother would occasionally put on salads. I didn’t discover that they could be anything but awful until just a couple of years ago. Their flavor is really pretty good. Chickpeas are mild, with a hint of richness, and quite hearty. I love them toasted or fried, and so when I saw a recipe that turned them into soup, I was intrigued.

I soaked the chickpeas on Sunday night, and I was all set to make this recipe for dinner on Monday night. However, when I got home and read the recipe again, I saw the one line that I’d obviously skipped over the first time I read the recipe. Cook for 2 hours. TWO HOURS. TWO. HOURS. Well, it was already 5:45 and we had yoga at 8, so I knew that wasn’t going to fly. So… I pushed the recipe off until Tuesday. So, beware. This recipe only takes about 20 minutes of active work in the kitchen, but it does require that two hour block of cooking at the beginning. You can certainly cook the chickpeas and onions one night, and then transfer the whole pot to the fridge and continue the next night.

Cream of Garbanzo Beans Au Gratin from Phaidon’s The Silver Spoon New Edition"" ” target=”_blank”>The Silver Spoon


  • 1 cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas), soaked overnight
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 slices of bread, toasted
  • 1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a medium sized saucepan, add the onions, the chickpeas, and 6.5 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, cover, and cook over medium heat for 2 hours.
  3. Transfer the chickpeas, onions, and the fluid to a blender and process until smooth. Return it to the pan to keep arm.
  4. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Add the crushed garlic clove and the rosemary and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the oil is well infused. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Discard the garlic and the rosemary and pour the oil into the chickpea puree.
  7. Ladle the puree into four oven safe bowls.
  8. Top each bowl with a slice of bread and divide the cheese between the bowls.
  9. Broil the bowls for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.
  10. Serve.
Notes: This soup was very satisfying. Despite the few ingredients, the dish is rich and satisfying. We both thought the soup could use a bit of a kick, so I’d suggest adding a sprig of rosemary towards the end of the initial cook time, as well as mincing the garlic and adding it with the oil towards the end. The cheese really ties the dish together and the addition of the slice of bread make this a very hearty dish. If you need to make this dish vegan, use a soft vegan cheese.
Notes on pressure cooking the beans: A reader commented asking if I have ever cooked beans in the pressure cooker. I have and it is a wonderful and quick way to deal with beans. However, for this recipe, I didn’t want to use the pressure cooker for several reasons.
  1. I suspected that the water to bean ratio that was left after cooking the beans for 2 hours was important. It is. You can’t just puree the beans by themselves, or you’ll end up with more of a hummus consistency. You need some of that water. There’s probably about 1.5 cups of water leftover once the beans have cooked for 2 hours.
  2. I’m adept at cooking beans in the pressure cooker, but I’m no expert. I suspected that the beans needed to be extra tender for this recipe and while I know I can get raw, soaked beans to tender in about 10-12 minutes in the pressure cooker, I wasn’t sure what I’d need to do to get the beans to their proper level of tenderness for this recipe. So for now, until I get a little better at pressure cooking beans, I’m going to keep using the stovetop method for this recipe. If you’d like to use the pressure cooker though, please do so and let me know how this recipe turns out!

A rare top down photo so you can see the actual soup!

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Kris September 28, 2011 at 3:24 am

This looks fantastic – thanks for sharing the recipe!

BTW, have you every tried cooking beans in a pressure cooker? It’s a life saver! I cooked a pot of soaked chick peas last evening in 8 minutes.

Patricia Eddy September 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

I do cook beans in the pressure cooker, but for this recipe, I suspected that the bean/water ratio was important and I also figured that the beans needed to be extra soft (and while I’m OK at cooking the beans in the pressure cooker, I’m not quite an expert at it yet to know how long to cook them for this level of ‘doneness’). Given those two constraints, I think that the proper way to cook beans for this recipe is still the stovetop. Once I’ve made the recipe a few times, I might experiment with pressure cooking the beans to see if I can get the same ratios.

Deb September 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

This sounds great! But you simply must try some Himalayan pink salt. I get mine from Sustainable Sourcing The flavor is so much better than regular salt! Thanks for sharing this recipe—I can’t wait to try it!

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