This dish is based on a traditional Tunisian dish called lablabi, a mildly flavoured but nourishing soup usually eaten at breakfast, and often on a bed of slightly stale bread and accompanied by eggs or tuna, but it works really well here as a stand-alone soup, especially with the final flourish of harissa oil.
Normally lablabi would be made using dried chickpeas but to short circuit the cooking time I have used tinned chickpeas and vegetable stock instead.
The end result is a hearty, wholesome and delicious bowl of plant-based goodness.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 400 g cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Juice of a lemon
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
for the harissa oil
- For the soup, pour the olive oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for five minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for a further three minutes. Now stir in the sea salt, cumin and tomato puree before adding the stock, bay leaf and the drained chickpeas.
- Stir the soup and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat so as to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for ten minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for ten minutes, then carefully remove the bay leaf.
- Remove roughly one third of the soup, making sure you have a representative balance of chickpeas and stock, and blend until smooth, then return to the pan. This will give the soup a more substantial consistency.
- Whisk the harissa paste with one tablespoon of olive oil. Set to one side. Return the soup to the heat and bring back to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and divide between four bowls. Swirl a little of the harissa oil across the top of each. Serve immediately, preferably with good quality bread.
Recipe & photo from Steve Dent AKA The Circus Gardener’s Kitchen