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Garbanzo Bean Soup + Cooking School in Oaxaca, Mexico

Fresh mint is one of only 5 ingredients in this tummy-warming garbanzo bean soup. It’s an unusual addition, that brings in unique and subtle flavor. Seasons of My Heart cooking school, where I first tasted sopa de garbanzo, calls it a bisque. Creamy bisque without a lick of cream. And it comes together in a quick and easy half-hour.

Garbanzo Bean Soup + Cooking School in Oaxaca Mexico

Tucked into a beautiful mountain valley in the state of Oaxaca, in southwestern Mexico, Susana Trilling’s school is much more than a hands-on cooking class; students learn about the diverse cuisine and culture of Oaxaca outside of the kitchen too.

At least in my experience, a day at the school has 2 components. (I’m a repeat customer; last year was my 5th time.) Omg–it’s the morning half that keeps me going back. I think a guided walk through Oaxaca City’s sprawling central market is a great way start the school day.

Garbanzo Bean Soup + cooking school in Oaxaca Mexico

Cruising the market can be intimidating; the smells, the colors, the bustle distracting. Last fall Susana’s assistant, Dominga, guided our group of 13 through the narrow aisles. Let me draw you a picture, a vignette of our day.

Before we entered the market, Dominga advised everyone to take off or hide expensive jewelry and to keep handbags in front and close to the body. It’s totally safe, just keep your wits about you.

We tasted warm tamales steamed in banana leaves. We traipsed into a tiny corner chocolate stand/factory to see cacao beans, coarse sugar and cinnamon sticks being ground into Mexican chocolate. (I learned there to ask for premier class cacao beans when buying Oaxaca-made chocolate.)

Stall after stall, we passed all manner of chiles, dried beans, pots and pans, and open-air shops selling clothes, from shoes to quinceañera gowns. You can buy newly caught fish, fresh chickens or a pig’s head if you want. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.

Garbanzo Bean Soup + Cooking School in Oaxaca Mexico

A couple of hours and miles later, (I’m not complaining), we found our way to lunch and crammed ourselves around oilcloth-covered picnic tables. I guess we’d worked up an appetite because our group devoured every tasty tostada and enchilada put before us. Dominga kept having to order more. Especially the one with guajillo chile-seasoned potatoes, layered high with shredded cabbage and avocado cubes.

I love Mexican mercados. I pray those big box stores sprouting all over Mexico never put these vibrant markets out of business.

I’ve been lucky to visit private simple homes out in the countryside with Susana’s classes. One year we spent the morning half of cooking school with a family of weavers, who taught us to form corn masa into huge Oaxacan tortillas, tlayudas. (It looks easy until you try your hand at it.)

Garbanzo Bean Soup + Cooking School in Oaxaca Mexico

No matter if the morning is a market tour or an in-depth demo at a family home, afternoon sessions are in the beautiful and spacious, well-equipped school kitchen. Susana passes out recipes, giving an overview of each dish. Then students divide into smaller groups of 2 or 3 and prepare a 5-course dinner. Last November at Seasons of My heart, we made sopa de garbanzo, this recipe for garbanzo bean soup garnished with little toasts.

Garbanzo Bean Soup + Cooking School in Oaxaca Mexico

Drink a frosty cerveza. Or a fruity hibiscus margarita. Imagine you just wandered the markets of Oaxaca. Whirl up this easy-to-make delicious garbanzo bean soup. Float a couple of garlic scented toasts on top. Like we did at cooking school. ¡Buen provecho!

Recipe notes:

You might also like this cranberry walnut bread pudding recipe inspired by Caffé El Triunfo, an Italian oasis in the cactus hills of Baja. I bought a brick-oven baked baguette there, for these garlic toasts.

Wishing you a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

When you make this soup, please let me know! Leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram or Twitter with #lettycooksveggies!

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5 from 1 vote
Garbanzo Bean Soup + Cooking School in Oaxaca Mexico
Garbanzo Bean Soup
This really yummy cream-less soup is a smooth puree with a bit of texture—perfect, if you ask me. I don’t know how the mint does it, but it somehow makes the garbanzos less garbanzo-y. You can whip up this soup in a half-hour using canned garbanzos.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion , about ½ medium onion (see note)
  • 1 garlic clove , minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves , finely chopped
  • cups plus 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans , aka chickpeas (see note)
  • 2 ½ plus 1 cup bean cooking stock or vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground red chile (see note)
Garlic toasts:
  • 1 baguette , sliced ¼-inch thick, about 12 slices
  • Olive oil , as needed
  • 1 garlic clove , cut in half crosswise
  1. In a heavy 4- or 5-quart saucepan over medium flame, heat the oil and sauté the onion about 10 minutes. When the onion is translucent and slightly brown, add the garlic and mint. Cook and stir another 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender whir the first 2 ½ cups of beans with the first 2 ½ cups of stock until very smooth. Stir the puree into the onion mixture.
  3. Pulse the remaining beans with the remaining liquid until the beans are coarsely chopped. Stir into the soup. Season with the salt and chile.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve with 2 garlic toasts floating on top.
Garlic toasts:
  1. Lightly brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil. Toast the slices until they are just golden around the edges. (I used my toaster oven.) Holding one half of the garlic clove with your fingers, swipe the cut edge across each toast.
Recipe Notes
  • Mexican cooks use white onions. Feel free to substitute yellow onions or even red onion.
  • Use pure chile powder. Chili powder is a spice blend—not the same at all. Susanna’s recipe calls for white pepper—so use that if pure chile powder is not available.
  • Given the choice and time, I cook garbanzos from scratch. See my recipe for how to cook garbanzo beans quickly in a pressure cooker.


  • It sounds wonderful; I can see why you’d go back so many times. Reply · 17 January, 2015

    • Letty

      There is a cooking school near here I’m going to check out–but I think Seasons of My Heart sets the standard. Reply · 18 January, 2015

  • What a fun way to spend the day. I love that the soup is creamy without added cream. Reply · 18 January, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Barbara. Yes, creamy with protien. I like the no-dairy aspect too. Reply · 18 January, 2015

  • sweetclafoutis

    I made the chickpeas in my new pressure cooker last night with some aromatics, and the soup today. So simple and delicious. I used some guajillo chile and smoky Turkish urfa biber. Reply · 19 January, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks for the report Donna. Love to hear you had success with both recipes! Reply · 19 January, 2015

  • You make me want to visit Mexico and go to cooking school! And that picture of you is gorgeous. Love the simple recipe, Letty! Reply · 20 January, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Kelley! I am checking out some other schools down here too! Reply · 20 January, 2015

  • I so want to go to this school. I love Oaxacan food. I just got back from a cooking adventure in Peru and it inspired me to take more international cooking classes when I travel. GREG Reply · 20 January, 2015

    • Letty

      I want to go on the vanilla tour with Susana Trilling. Reply · 20 January, 2015

  • Kate

    I’m living in Teotitlan del Valle at the moment abe here they roast dry chickpeas and then pulverize them, selling the powder in the market. You add water, onion, garlic, perhaps some hoja Santa, and cook it up for the soup. They do the same with roasted, pulverized black beans! Reply · 6 March, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Kate. I have read that they make the powder and use it for soup. To clarify–are the dried beans roasted and ground before cooking? Or are they roasted after they have been cooked, and pulverized after?
      Are you studying weaving in Teotitlan de Valle? Reply · 7 March, 2015

  • Madelyn

    Your site is a great find. Reply · 14 November, 2017

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