The Creamiest, Tastiest Chickpeas

A white bowl of chickpeas with thyme scatter overtop. A brown napkin is beside the bowl.

A long soak and a low braise makes miracles happen. 

by Erin Henderson

Like the Montagues and Capulets, Sharks and Jets, and Hatfields and McCoys, the opposing sides of legume cooks are legendary.

There are those who soak, and those who scoff smugly at the practice. Some will add salt to the braising liquid at the start, others, fearing a tough bean as a fate worse than death, will vehemently stay away from sodium enhancements until the final moments of cooking.

If you are a no-soak, no-salt cook, this is not the article for you.

I am a proudly patched-in member of the soak (and I soak a long, loooong time) and salt-from-the-start gang.

I wasn’t always a sworn member; like heart-broken Maria from West Side Story, for a while I enjoyed breathless affairs with dangerous liaisons – the no soak, no salt gangs. But the stolen moments left me heartbroken. Tasteless, hard, bland beans were the lovechild of those fateful unions.

A few years ago, in a quest to find my true Bean Tribe, I came across a recipe I have long since lost, and therefore can’t credit the chef responsible. A recipe that suggested cooking chickpeas with flavourful aromatics like carrot, celery, fennel – and most revolutionary, olive oil. It changed my bean game forever.

As years went on, I began tinkering with the exact flavourings, and increased my soaking time from the standard “eight hours or overnight” to an incredible 24-hour soak. Many-a-jaw has dropped at this full day method, outraged at the amount of time involved. To that I say, what time? You pour your beans in a bowl, cover them with water and go about your business. It’s not like you must carry them around with you.

A 24-hour soak results in a chickpea that, while still not cooked, has softened to the point where I can pierce one with my fingernail – ensuring beans that are uniformly softened and creamy.

Soaking now figured out, it was on to boosting the final flavour of the bean, which was still sort of lacking.

My flavour quest led me to leading culinary figures of multi-cultural influence: Rick Martinez, author of the Mexican cookbook, Mi Cocina, Nancy Silverton the legendary chef behind the Mozza Italian restaurant empire, Melissa Clarke, the popular NYT Cooking columnist, all on record saying salting from the start is the way to go. Like the song you’re thinking about suddenly coming on the radio, it was kismet.

The below recipe is the way I cook chickpeas now, and probably will forever. I covet the braising liquid as if it’s gold, repurposing the flavourful, gorgeously silky bean stock (ha! Bean stock – get it?) for luscious soups, sauces and even pasta sauces. Sometimes I make chickpeas just for the stock, it’s that good.

An overhead picture of a cast iron pot filled with liquid, various vegetables, and chickpeas for braising

Braised Chickpeas

After years of trying different methods, I am quite sure this is among the best, if not at the top of list. Despite the lengthy soaking and braising time, it's largely hands-off, so don't let the time involved scare you away. 

Makes: about 8 cups of beans and 2-3 litres of stock, depending on evaporation

Chef level: easy

What You Need: 
  • 3 cups dried chickpeas
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 1 red onion, peeled, root left intact, and sliced in half
  • ½ large carrot, scrubbed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 celery ribs, cleaned a sliced in half lengthwise
  • Half a fennel bulb, fronds removed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp whole fennel seed
  • 1 Tbsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorn
  • 3 large bay leaves, broken
  • 1 whole dried Arbol chili
  • (optional: fresh sprigs of thyme, parsley, and/or rosemary – I add these when I have them, but don’t sweat it, if I don’t.)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
How You Make It:
  1. In a large glass bowl, cover dried chickpeas by an inch or two of water. Leave on the counter to soak for 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°F
  3. Drain, place chickpeas in a large Dutch-oven or oven-safe pot and cover with fresh water by about 2 inches.
  4. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, and olive oil to the water.
  5. Into a large square of cheesecloth, place spices and optional fresh herbs. Tie securely with kitchen twine and add to the water.
  6. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat.
  7. Once boiling, add the salt, remove from the heat, cover and place in the oven for about 90 minutes to two-hours.
  8. Once the chickpeas are creamy and soft and super flavourful, remove the pot from oven, throw away the vegetables and herb sachet, and drain the chickpeas reserving the stock.
  9. Use the chickpeas in anything from salads to soups to spreads and the braising liquid as a base for soups, stews, curries, and sauces.

Hear From Real People!

Everything was perfect and very personalized! We still talk about experience and how nice it was. Definitely memories our family will treasure forever.
I had the pleasure of attending the Oceania Cruise event where you conducted a wine pairing. I have to say that your wine and food pairing made a typically ho hum travel information night, spectacular! I have never done a wine pairing. I was amazed at how food interacted with the wines.
The Wine Sisters put on magnificent event in Unionville..... They did a superb job, both as Sommeliers and on the PR and overall event co-ordination ... Great job and we look forward to working with you on our event!
[They] quickly engaged our group with our wine themed engagement party. Guests were lined up all evening for the experience. [They] very willing to involve guests in tasting discussion. We are all a little more wine savvy - thank you The Wine Sisters
Our guests had a great evening and Erin made sure that everyone (even non-drinkers) enjoyed themselves! Thanks for making the bridal shower so memorable!
The unique programs and the tour we did with you was a huge success. Guests really enjoyed the afternoon!
Great energy, sense of humour and very knowledgeable! Thank you for making it an afternoon to remember!
Wow, Emily was absolutely fantastic! She was patient, explained the wines well, and was a delight to work with.

Thank you so much for everything I will definitely use your services again.
 
The event was a huge success! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the group was quite engaged. The wine was also delicious! Thank you so much! I hope we can work together on another event in the future!
Thank you very, very, very much for the outstanding planning and support you gave in making this event an absolute success. People were just having a fantastic time and the set-up and style were absolutely brilliant. I think we got what we exactly wanted. I will reach out again!

Instagram Feed

Follow on Instagram

For support issues or any questions, please email us at drinkwithus@thewinesisters.com

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to be the first to know about our wine recommendations, cocktail recipes, and great tips for throwing fabulous parties.