Saba’s Chickpea Tomato Soup: An Interview and a Knock-Off Recipe

Ever been to Saba in Emory Village? It’s a cute, homey Italian restaurant on Oxford Road, that serves items like soups, salads and pastas after you order at the front. Saba’s other location in Oakhurst Village features the same menu, but with full service and a full bar.

Saba loves its Emory community and clientele and even uses pictures of local family dogs as table markers. It truly is a neighborhood spot. It’s one of my favorite places in the village, not just for the cute dog table markers or the comforting atmosphere, but mostly for its amazing chickpea tomato soup. As a graduating senior who will soon no longer be a 10-minute walk from my favorite soup, I decided to try and recreate the recipe for my instagram blog, @hb_eats.

How did I do it? I knew the main ingredients: tomatoes, chickpeas and rosemary. From there, I decided to add some classic Italian flavors and seasonings like garlic and onion powder. Once I had the pot of soup bubbling on the stove, it was all trial and error from there. A little bit of this, a little bit of that until I was happy with the taste — and until it satisfied a craving for my favorite Saba soup.

After cooking my soup, I headed to the restaurant to sit down with owner Shane Mixon to learn more about Saba, and have him try my copycat soup recipe.

EW: How long ago did you open Saba?

SM: It’ll be 10 years this summer.

EW: Do you come up with all the recipes?

SM: Some of them. My friend Ryan Aiken came up with the initial menu. It was a little more condensed. He’s a chef — he did Burrito Art back in the day — and I continue to consult with him on anything I do to the menu.

EW: So, the chickpea tomato soup, was that Ryan’s recipe?

SM: No that was actually mine!

EW: And that is the only soup consistently on the menu. Is there a reason for that?

SM: Well, it was popular and it’s vegan. It’s actually gluten-free so that helped out later on when that became more of a big deal. Being close to the university, we have a good vegan base, so it covered all the bases, especially when gluten-free became more popular later on.

EW: Are you brave enough to try my copycat recipe?

SM: Yes! I’d love to.

(I awkwardly/anxiously wait while he tastes my soup)

SM: It’s good! I like it! I think yours is a little more tomato-y. Do you use a tomato sauce in it?

EW: Yes — diced canned tomatoes and tomato paste.

SM: It’s good though! I like it. One thing that we do, which you might like but you might not, is we take half the chickpeas and puree them. That’s what gives the soup the thicker consistency, without using tomato paste.

EW: I will have to try that! Have other customers created copycat recipes before?

SM: Yes, I’ve had customers tell me that they’ve tried to recreate the chickpea tomato soup and also the orange balsamic salad dressing. But, this is the first recreation that I’ve gotten to try myself!

The first … so automatically the best!

Interested in trying my copycat Saba Chickpea Tomato Soup at home? Try this recipe!

Also be sure to visit my site www.hb-eats.com for some other great recipes.

Rosemary Chickpea Tomato Soup Recipe:

28 ounces canned diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon garlic

1 teaspoon diced red onion

2 tablespoons tomato paste

32 ounces vegetable broth

2 15.5 ounce canned chickpeas, drained

3-4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch red pepper flakes

1teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Black pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and diced red onion. Once combined, add all other ingredients except the canned chickpeas.
  2. Bring soup to a simmer. Once simmering, add the canned chickpeas.
  3. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings accordingly.  Continue simmering for 10 more minutes. Enjoy!! (hint: store soup in a container in the refrigerator — tastes better as leftovers once the flavors meld together even more!).

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