I'll admit, this soup is a little weird. It might be having a bit of an identity crisis. I'm really not sure where it came about, but every now and then I get some random idea in my head that I think will taste good. This one was pretty darn random and as far as tasting good, I was spot on.
Let's dissect the weirdness a bit. Coconut curry soup. Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that normally I'd pair a Thai curry paste with coconut. Maybe people use Indian curry powder with coconut milk, but I've never done it. I loved it.
Then there's the kale thing. Not sure how that fits in with Thai or Indian cuisine, but it tastes delicious in Thai Indian fusion dishes (a.k.a., this one).
Finally, I just wanted some meatballs in my soup. People throw meat versions of meatballs in soup all the time (don't they?), so I figured meatballs made out of chickpeas had to be good in soup. They were great. They were almost falafel-esque, but honestly, even if they tasted just like falafel, you'd probably never know with all this flavor mingling you've got going on in this soup. I've gotten pretty skilled at making veggie meatballs at this point, and here I pretty much took my basic vegan meatball equation and made it with chickpeas. I also made them smaller than usual, so they fit nicely into a spoon. Clever right? Because they're so little, they bake up a bit on the dry side, but don't worry - that works out perfect for meatballs made for soup, as they suck up the rich curry coconut broth (but if you're thinking of making them for say, spaghetti, adjust accordingly).
Coconut Curry Kale and Chickpea Ball Soup
For the Chickpea Balls
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion quartered
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1-14 oz. can or 1 ¾ cups cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup panko
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp. Asian chili paste optional, or to taste
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
For the Coconut Curry Soup
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1-14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1 ½ tbsp. curry powder
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1-2 tsp. Asian chili paste optional, or to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups kale leaves stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces
Make the Chickpea Balls
Preheat oven to 400º. Coat a large baking sheet with oil.
Place onion and garlic in food processor bowl. Pulse a few times to chop. Add chickpeas, panko, cilantro, soy sauce or tamari, chili paste and pepper. Roll into ½ inch balls (you should get 25-30) and arrange on baking sheet.
Bake 25-30 minutes, turning 1-2 times during baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.
Make the Coconut Curry Soup
While chickpea balls bake, heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Sauté until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Add broth, coconut milk, curry powder, lime juice, chili paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add kale leaves. Simmer 1-2 minutes, just until leaves are wilted. Remove from heat.
Divide chickpea balls into bowls and ladle soup over top.
If you're going to have leftovers, consider storing the chickpea balls separate from the broth, so they don't get overly soggy.