Basil-Parmesan Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Basil-Parmesan Chicken and Chickpea Soup

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You know I love a scrappy soup, and this basil-Parmesan chicken and chickpea soup may be one of the quickest, pantriest soups ever.

It’s loaded with pantry staples like chickpeas, pasta, and plenty of spices. A few simple, fresh ingredients like basil, spinach, Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon juice elevate this into a midweek meal that tastes as if it took way longer to cook. Shh, no one needs to know how easy this is to make!

Basil-Parmesan Chicken and Chickpea Soup recipe

Usually, when I do hot Pilates, I get home around 7 o’clock. At this point, I need to throw something together super fast because I’m ravenous. I’ll alternate between chicken bowls, like this rotisserie chicken salad bowl or this sweet chili chicken bowl, or sometimes I’ll throw together a quick vegan ramen recipe. Whatever I decide to make needs to be fast and filling. This basil-Parmesan chicken and chickpea soup totally fits the bill.

I was going to make another ground chicken salad, but I remembered I had some elbow pasta left in my pantry. Imagining how good a quick chicken soup would taste sent me down a soupy path instead of a salad situation. I was going for a quick weeknight take on pasta e fagioli. And how pretty does this tureen of chicken and chickpea soup look?

basil-parmesan soup

How to make this basil-Parmesan chicken and chickpea soup

This is just a super satisfying dinner that I always want to eat. It may enter my regular rotation of post-Pilates dinners! You can modify it endlessly; the post below outlines some suggestions for substitutions.

What you need

  • Ground chicken and onion: You can use any ground meat here, such as pork, beef, or turkey. If you have a rotisserie chicken, shred it and use it instead! For fresh aromatics, I keep it simple with just a diced onion. You can certainly get creative and use a sliced leek or shallot instead.
  • Canned chickpeas: You need just 1 can of chickpeas, but any white bean will do here. Try it with navy, cannellini, or Great Northern!
  • Spices: Since this is a pantry meal, I let dry spices do most of the heavy lifting. I use garlic powder, dry thyme, paprika, and a shake of Italian seasoning. I also add a lot of crushed red pepper, but you can add this to your preference.
  • Chicken broth or water: If you have chicken bouillon or chicken broth, use that. Otherwise, water will work just fine. You may need to add a bit more salt if you use water.
  • Parmesan rind: If you don’t have one, skip it. I always keep my Parmesan rinds, and you should, too! But fear not—omitting it won’t negatively impact your recipe at all.
  • Spinach and basil: I chop up about two cups of fresh spinach and a handful of fresh basil leaves. You can use kale or escarole instead if you want to get fancy! A few handfuls of fresh arugula would also be delicious.
  • Elbows: You only need 4 ounces of uncooked pasta, equivalent to about 1 cup. I use elbows, but any short pasta will work here. Try it with mini farfalle, ditalini, shells, or orzo…or if you’re in a serious scrappy mode, use a mix of your odds-and-ends pasta to equal 1 cup!
  • Grated Parmesan: Grate up about ¾ cup of Parmesan using a microplane or the small holes of your box grater. You can always use more or less depending on how cheesy you’re feeling.
  • Lemon juice: I always feel a strong need to finish my soups with lemon juice. The acid helps brighten the other ingredients and liven up the soup before serving.

How to make it

  • Step 1: Cook the chicken. Brown the chicken and onion together in olive oil until the chicken is cooked. Add the chickpeas and toss to combine.
  • Step 2: Spice it up. Season everything up with the spices and cook until fragrant.
  • Step 3: Time to simmer. Pour in the water or broth and bring to a boil. Chuck in the Parmesan rind if you have one. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20–30 minutes as you cook the elbows.
  • Step 4: Cook the elbows. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the elbows until 1 minute under al dente.
  • Step 5: Finish the soup. Add the spinach and basil to the soup and throw the elbows on top. As soon as the spinach begins to wilt, add the Parmesan and lemon juice.

Now you can serve it! I like to transfer the whole soup to a cute tureen and ladle it into bowls from there. You can finish with more basil and Parmesan, as you like. A finishing drizzle of good olive oil is never a bad idea.

I hope you loved this basil-Parmesan chicken and chickpea soup as much as I did! If you make it, please let me know what you think of the recipe by rating it and dropping a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Basil-Parmesan Chicken and Chickpea Soup recipe

Basil-Parmesan Chicken and Chickpea Soup

You know I love a scrappy soup, and this basil-Parmesan chicken and chickpea soup may be one of the quickest, pantriest soups ever.
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 585kcal


  • Medium pot
  • Colander
  • Microplane or cheese grater


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 15.5- ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • 6 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 Parmesan rind, optional
  • 4 ounces uncooked elbows, about 1 cup total
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach, roughly chopped
  • 12 basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for serving
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper


Cook the chicken:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and break it up briefly. Add the onion and cook–breaking up the chicken with your spoon–for 10–12 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 3–4 minutes until the chicken is completely browned and cooked through and the onion has softened.
  • Add the chickpeas and toss to combine.

Add the spices:

  • Add the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, and a few shakes of crushed red pepper. Toss to coat and continue sautéing for 1 minute until fragrant.

Simmer the soup:

  • Pour in the chicken broth or water. Bring to a boil and add the Parmesan rind. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20–30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.

Make the elbows:

  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, add the elbows and cook until 1 minute under al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Finish the soup:

  • Add the chopped spinach and basil to the soup, followed by the cooked elbows. Stir until the spinach wilts. Immediately stir in the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Taste and season one final time. Continue stirring until the cheese melts into the broth. Turn off the heat.

To serve:

  • Transfer the soup into a tureen if you like. Ladle into bowls and garnish with more grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves on top if you like. Enjoy!


Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 21g | Sodium: 393mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin C: 22mg
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