Tunisian Chickpea Soup

7 Oct

It is pepper and chilli harvest time so I’ve been making batches of home made harissa paste which is a fundamental ingredient of this soup. In North Africa this would be called Lablabi, a popular every day dish from Tunisia; filling, nutritious and lip smackingly good. Pared down it is chickpeas in a broth seasoned with cumin, olive oil and harissa paste, simple food that tastes divine.

It can also be varied enormously with seasonings and garnishes; this one is garnished with; olive oil, cumin, lemon, and a poached egg.

Wash the chickpeas well and put into a large pan. Fill with cold water, leave to soak for 12 hours.Discard some of the water leaving just enough to cover the soaked chickpeas. Put the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for one and a half hours or until the chick peas are tender. Stir in a good slosh of olive oil, a few cloves of crushed garlic, some ground cumin, some chopped parsley and lots of harissa to taste, cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon the soup into a dish, give it a squeeze of lemon, a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of crushed cumin seeds. Serve with bread croutons spread with more harissa or some tuna, a poached egg, or olives, whatever takes your fancy on the day.

Try it with a bit of tuna too.

Variations: There are very many variations of this simple soup because Lablabi is a traditional dish so it has been around for a long time. The chick peas can be cooked with meat bones. Stale bread can be broken into pieces and used to line the serving bowl before pouring the soup over it or the bread can be served as croutons spread with harissa paste.

Topping: The basic soup is served topped with olive oil, cumin, and a dollop of harissa but for a more substantial dish the soup can be served topped with; fish such as tuna or sardines, egg, bread croutons, capers or olives.

Cooks TIP
The soaking and cooking of chickpeas takes a long time so save it, and cooking fuel, by cooking up a large batch then freeze or bottle in ready to use portions. I freeze cooked chickpeas drained for salads and small dishes like Spicy Chickpea Salad, Spinach and Chickpeas and hummous or in bags with their cooking liquor for soups like this one.

Recipe Sources
Mirage Blogspot
La Cuisine Marocaine
Cuisine d’Afrique

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 14/10/2008.


One Response to “Tunisian Chickpea Soup”

  1. Rosie 13/10/2009 at 10:44 #

    This is really yummy. Even my carnivore of a husband got as far as 'mmm not bad' high praise 🙂

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