Chickpea Stew Is Usually the Uncool Dad Jeans of Soup. Not This One.

Vivienne's take is warming, spicy, and complex.

By Benjamin Tepler March 27, 2018 Published in the April 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Michael Novak

Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry’s Robin Wheelright is an alchemist of insipid cookery: she turns milquetoast foods into blissful experiences with a homesteader’s hard line on seasonality and fermentation. Mealy porridge? Her version has yogurt, toasted coconut, pistachios, and house-made berry compote. Tuna salad? Try it with nori, toasted almonds, and sherry vinaigrette. But Wheelright’s greatest trick might be her ... drumroll ... chickpea stew, typically the soup version of dad jeans.

A nod to similar bowls at California eateries Gjelina and Sqirl, Vivienne’s stew is a complex comfort, steaming with a full cabinet of spices and aromatics, cinnamon to ginger. Its superpowers come from aquafaba, a thick chickpea stock, while mix-ins like canned summer tomatoes, tangy crème fraîche, and herbaceous pistou make this vegetarian belly-warmer anything but ordinary.

Chickpea Stew

Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Chickpeas and aquafaba*
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped and juice reserved
  • 6–8 chard leaves or any dark leafy green, destemmed and cut into large strips
  • Parsley pistou**
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • Crème fraîche

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and shallots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add spices, cooked chickpeas, and tomatoes with their liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook for a three minutes. Add reserved aquafaba and cook 20 minutes longer. Add greens and cook until wilted, about 1–2 minutes. Serve in bowls with dollops of crème fraîche, chopped herbs, and pistou, alongside toasted ciabatta. This stew gets better with time: make ahead and serve at brunch topped with a poached egg.

*Chickpeas and Aquafaba

In a bowl, cover 2 cups dried chickpeas with 2 inches of water and soak at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place in a pot with 3 quarts water, 1 bay leaf, 10 black peppercorns, and 1 tsp salt. Simmer over low heat until creamy and tender, but still retaining shape, 45 minutes to an hour. Drain chickpeas and reserve liquid (this is the aquafaba). You can fudge this step in a hurry with four 16 oz cans of chickpeas. Drain the chickpeas and substitute 1½ quarts water for the aquafaba.

**Parsley Pistou

Process 1 bunch parsley leaves in a blender with ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ tsp salt until combined. Slowly drizzle in ⅔ cup olive oil until emulsified. Pistou will keep 2–3 days in the refrigerator.

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