How can something so simple--chickpeas and coconut--be so utterly sublime? The addition of onion, garlic and ginger helps and a dusting of turmeric and red pepper flakes makes it even better. I added two cups of chopped cauliflower to give it more heft. But it's the combination of rich coconut milk softened with just enough vegetable stock that makes this soup eat like a symphony. Smooth and hearty, this soup will surprise you and it will likely stick. Knowing it can be yours in less than one hour, makes it a cherished new staple in the soup recipes file.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. (Note: turmeric is most effective when paired with black pepper, so be generous)
Add the turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pot and some more pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the aromatic spices and oil until they start to break down and get browned and crisped, about 8- 10 minutes.
Then remove a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides as this will naturally thicken the stew. Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth and stir well to combine.
Bring to a simmer, scraping any bits that formed on the bottom and sides of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until the stew has thickened, about 30-45 minutes. After cooking for 15 minutes, add the chopped cauliflower (you want small pieces of cauliflower like the size of the chickpea so they cook evenly) and stir. Cook for another 15 minutes or until it's the thickness you want in a stew.
Add the greens and cook until wilted and softened, about 3-7minutes, depending on the green you are using. (Swiss chard and spinach will melt quickly, but kale or collard greens will take a little longer.)
Taste the stew for salt and pepper, adjusting if needed.
When serving, top bowls of stew with a tablespoon of the reserved chickpeas and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Then sprinkle with chopped mint or cilantro. Serve with a scoop of brown rice or lavash bread or similar for sopping.
Refrigerate any leftovers. When reheating, add a little water or vegetable broth to thin it out as it will be thick.