Dude! Its Like Tunisian Chili!!! Chickpea and Harissa Soup (Lablabi)

Last night Jessica was talking about doing an all vegetarian dinner with her son, BJ. I thought that was a great idea so when I was perusing my Milk Street TV news letter and saw this Tunisian ChickPea soup, I thought I would try a great hearty soup to blunt the terrors of another frigid Southern California winter. It turns out that we all enjoyed it and it made the house very fragrant. Finding the Harissa Sauce was a challenge but I found it.

Some Tips: Toast all the cumin used in this reciepe by adding 5 Tbs to a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly for about a minute until fragrant then transfer to a small bowl. To make the soft boiled eggs (a lost art in America!) the Milk Street folks engaged a steamer but I prefer the way my grandma did it when i was boy. Wheeee!




2 quarts water
2 cups dried chickpeas
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped (2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons ground cumin, toasted
4 tablespoons harissa
3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth or water
8 ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½-inch-thick and torn into bite-size pieces ( used Ciabatta Rolls to make mine)
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

For serving:

Harissa, to taste (its spicy!)
2 tablespoons ground cumin, toasted
8 soft-cooked eggs, peeled and halved (just at serving)
1/2 cup drained capers
1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Lemon wedges


  1. To make the soup, first soak the chickpeas. In a large bowl, combine the water, chickpeas and 2 tablespoons salt. Let soak at room temperature for at least 10 hours to 24 hours. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it browns, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cumin and Harissa, then cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the chickpeas and broth, then bring to a boil over high. Reduce to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the chickpeas are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
  7. Chop Bread into 3/4 – 1 inch cubes and put them into a large bowl. Add olive oil and salt in two passes stirring the croutons each time. Set oven to 300 degrees and toast croutons until crisp and browned.
  8. Boil the eggs for 5 minutes in pan of softly boiling water. Place in ice bath to stop cooking but take out the soft-boiled eggs before they get cold and peel (not always easy!). Set aside until you serve.
  9. To serve, build a little assembly line. Start by placing 2 to 3 tablespoons of croutons in each serving bowl. Ladle chickpeas and broth around them, then drizzle with oil. Add Harissa and cumin, then place egg on top of each portion and cut in half. Add 1 tablespoon each capers, olives, parsley and cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.