Turkish Chickpea & Lamb Soup


This recipe was inspired by a hearty lamb and chickpea soup from Turkey. Finishing it with a dollop of pistachio-mint pesto adds another layer of flavor.

Cook Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
6 servings, about 1 2/3 cups each



  • ¾ cup dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed

  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 (1 pound) lamb shank, trimmed

  • teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 2 bay leaves

  • ½ cup bulgur (see Note), rinsed

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pistachio-Mint Pesto

  • 1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves

  • cup shelled pistachios

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt

  • teaspoon salt


  1. To prepare soup: Place chickpeas in a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches and let soak for 8 to 24 hours. (Alternatively, place chickpeas in a large saucepan and cover with 3 inches cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 hour.) Drain.

  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 4-quart or larger pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Remove from the heat.

  3. Sprinkle lamb shank with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. Add the lamb shank and cook, turning from time to time, until browned all over, 3 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the pressure cooker. Add broth, tomatoes, bay leaves and the chickpeas.

  4. Secure the pressure cooker lid. Bring to high pressure over high heat following manufacturer's directions. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting that maintains high pressure. Cook for 35 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, place bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing out excess water.

  6. Let the pressure release naturally. This will take 5 to 20 minutes.

  7. To prepare pesto: Meanwhile, process mint, pistachios and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add oil, lemon juice and yogurt through the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a paste. If using unsalted pistachios, add salt, if desired.

  8. When the pressure has released, discard bay leaves. Skim fat from the surface of the soup. Using tongs, transfer the lamb shank to a clean cutting board. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred the lamb meat and return it to the soup. Add the drained bulgur. Heat through. Stir in lemon juice. Dollop some pesto onto each serving.


To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Thin with additional chicken broth or water, if necessary, when reheating.

Equipment: 4-quart or larger pressure cooker

Ingredient Note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. Don't confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which is just that--cracked wheat. Since the parboiling step is skipped, cracked wheat must be cooked for up to an hour whereas bulgur simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains.

Variation: Conventional-Stove Instructions: In Step 2, replace the pressure cooker with a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven. After sauteing onion, carrots, garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne, transfer to a plate. Brown the lamb shank (Step 3) in the same pot. Add onion and carrot mixture back to the pot along with the chickpeas. In Step 4, simmer gently, covered, over low heat, until the lamb shank and chickpeas are very tender, 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours.

High-Altitude Tip: For every 1,000 feet above 2,000 feet elevation, increase the cooking time by 5%.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

344 Calories
14g Fat
38g Carbs
20g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Serving Size about 1 2/3 cups
Calories 344
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 10g 35%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 20g 39%
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Vitamin A 4633IU 93%
Vitamin C 23mg 26%
Folate 46mcg 12%
Sodium 440mg 19%
Calcium 131mg 10%
Iron 6mg 34%
Magnesium 55mg 13%
Potassium 747mg 16%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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