Place spelt in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 1 hour; drain.
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, paprika, cumin, saffron (if using), spelt, broth, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or until spelt is tender.
Add tomatoes and chickpeas and cook for 20 minutes or until flavors have blended. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.