Hearty Vegan Chickpea and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Recipe

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I’ve mentioned before that I could eat soup any time of the year, and I truly appreciate the fact that soup always makes great leftovers. Less time stressing over what to bring to work for lunch = happy and pleasant me.

However, when I made this Chickpea and Shiitake Mushroom Soup the other day, I almost had to hide the soup pot after Rob and I had a couple bowls: it was so good that it sure seemed that we were going to wolf down the whole pot and not leave any leftovers for the following day!

UPDATE July 2015: This recipe has been approved by Dr. Michael Greger of Nutrition Facts.org to be a part of his healthy plant-based recipe directory!

Hearty Vegan Chickpea and Shiitake Mushroom Soup RecipeI’ve made different variations of this soup in the past months, but it all started as an attempt to recreate one of my favorite soups form my childhood.

My parents used to make this hearty and delicious soup with rich cuts of lamb or beef back when I was a wee lass growing up in Russia. We called it kharcho (харчо in Russian) – if you Google it, it comes up as ‘Georgian lamb and rice soup’ (Georgia being the country in the Caucasus mountains, not the Southern US state).

I continued making this soup after I moved to the US long before Rob and I entertained any thoughts about going vegan. Rob absolutely loved this soup, and every pot of it never stayed around for too long in the fridge.

Vegan mushroom soup with chickpeas, barley and spinachThen our vegan days came. Although I was excited to discover so many delicious new plant-based dishes, I kind of missed the rich flavor of kharcho every now and then. What I didn’t miss was all the fat from oil and rich cuts of meat that saturated this soup.

For a while, I was sure that recreating this rich flavor in a vegan way was an impossible feat, especially if I wanted to make it oil-free. (Why no oil in my recipes? See this post over here.) I kept trying though, and eventually this recipe was born!

Vegan Chickpea and Shiitake Mushroom Soup RecipeThe combination of tomato paste-based broth, mushrooms, chickpeas and rice gives this soup the exact richness I was looking for, no oil or added fat needed.

Shiitake mushrooms make a great substitution for meat strips of the original recipe thanks to their chewy texture. You can use either fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms here. Dried shiitakes tend to run cheaper, so feel free to use those to save some money.

To make the soup even healthier, I topped each bowl with a generous handful of chopped fresh spinach.

Chickpea and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Recipe - a vegan soup recipe with mushrooms and chickpeasWhy adding spinach before serving the soup, and not when it’s still cooking? I find that spinach wilts very well when added to a piping hot broth, and adding it to the pot of soup while it’s in progress tends to overcook spinach. If you don’t want to top each bowl with fresh spinach, however, you’re welcome to stir it in right after you take the pot of soup off the heat.

Sprinkle each bowl with black pepper, chopped parsley or scallions, and you’ll get exactly the soup I grew up loving so much! Except for this time, it will be meat-free and much healthier.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Hearty Vegan Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Chickpeas

Hearty Vegan Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Chickpeas

This rich and hearty soup will be a hit with your family on cold winter nights. It makes for delicious leftovers the following day! Top each bowl with fresh spinach or arugula, or add them to the soup just before taking it off the heat. Plant-based vegan, oil-free recipe.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 5-7 dried shiitake mushrooms*
  • 1 ½ cup fresh crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown rice or barley, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup red lentils, uncooked (optional)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 8 cups of water or low sodium vegetable broth, plus more for sautéing vegetables
  • 1-2 cubes low sodium veggie bouillon (optional, best when using water instead of broth), or substitute with 1-2 Tbsp of low sodium soy sauce/tamari
  • Handful of fresh spinach or arugula, roughly chopped, to serve**


  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh)
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Dash cayenne pepper


  1. In a small bowl, pour boiling water over shiitake mushrooms, set aside to soak for 10-15 minutes or up to 1 hour. For best results, place a small saucer or a lid on top of the mushrooms to submerge them deeper.
  2. Sautée diced onion, celery and carrots in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot with 1-2 Tbsp of water/broth or oil until the vegetables become slightly translucent, 3-5 min. Add minced garlic, sautée 30 seconds longer. Add sliced crimini mushrooms, cook 2-3 min. Mix in tomato paste; stir the mixture until the paste is well incorporated. Add rinsed brown rice or barley and lentils, if using. Add all of the spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 min.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the soaked shiitake mushrooms into 1/4 inch thick strips. Add them to the soup pot along with cubed potatoes and chickpeas. Pour the water or broth over the mixture. Add the bouillon cubes/low sodium soy sauce, if using.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-17 minutes. The soup is done when the rice/barley is soft, and the potato cubes can be easily split in half. If the soup looks too thick, add more water/broth and bring to a boil once more.
  5. Taste the soup, adjust the seasoning if needed. Take the soup off the heat, and let sit for 10 min before serving.
  6. Serve topped with chopped spinach or arugula** and/or parsley if desired.


*I prefer using dried shiitake mushrooms because they have a chewier texture once cooked, plus they are more affordable than fresh shiitake, and have a long shelf life.

*I find that hot soup broth does a good job wilting fresh spinach/arugula, that’s why I suggest using it when serving the soup. Alternatively, you can add the greens to the soup just before taking it off the heat in step 4.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 387 Total Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 552mg Carbohydrates: 76g Fiber: 18g Sugar: 10g Protein: 18g
Please note that the provided nutritional information data is approximate.

Hearty Shiitake Mushroom Soup Recipe - vegan, plant-based, with gluten-free option

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About Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.

12 Responses to Hearty Vegan Chickpea and Shiitake Mushroom Soup Recipe

  1. Joan says:

    Hi! I would love to try this soup. Like you, I could eat soup any time. I have a problem though, I have a problem with all those mushrooms. Anything I can replace them for? I simply don’t like mushrooms. Or maybe I can reduce the recipe so I won’t be wasteing too much. I know mushrooms are good for you and I may even like the flavor of the broth because of them.

    • Alina says:

      Hi Joan, thanks for stopping by! There are a couple things you could do here. You can either reduce the recipe like you’ve suggested, or only use crimini (baby Portobello) mushrooms, chop them finely and add them to the soup at the same time as the broth. This way, they will cook down quite a bit so you may not notice them when you’re eating the soup. Dried shiitake may be too chewy for you, that’s why I think you should leave them out.

  2. Cadry says:

    This soup sounds delicious! Soup is one of my favorite meals too. You can pack so much healthy stuff into it. Plus, it’s very warming, and comforting too. That’s exciting that you were able to recreate an old favorite. It is a satisfying feeling veganizing an old standard and making it even better!

  3. Doug says:

    Sounds yummy – my wife and I are trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diet and we will give this one a try. Thanks for the advice on when to add the spinach.

    • Alina says:

      Glad to hear you and your wife are trying more vegetarian dishes, Doug! As for spinach, I’ve been adding it to just about every soup and chili lately to boost nutrition even further.

  4. Corinna says:

    Hello, made this soup today and we loved it!!!!!!!! Soooo good!!!!!

  5. Hello! Alina. Your recipe are wonderful. I too have a vegetarian food blog. Please visit if you like


  6. Sharon B says:

    The instructions, paragraph 4. it mentions potatoes. Are there supposed to be potatoes in this recipe?

  7. Pingback: 35 One Pot Vegan Meals - Quick, Tasty, Easy Cleanup.

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