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In Tunisia, soup is rich and bright
Milk Street Bowtie Chickpea and Harissa Soup (Lablabi)

Chickpea and Harissa Soup (Lablabi)

1 hour

Free

For our version of this brothy-bready chickpea soup, we used garlic, tomato paste and toasted cumin to bolster the broth's flavor. And instead of using stale bread—as is common in Tunisia—we got better texture by toasting chunks of crusty bread in olive oil to make croutons. Toasted ground cumin is used in the soup as well as on it; to be efficient, toast it all at once. In a small, dry skillet over medium, toast 5 tablespoons ground cumin, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute, then transfer to a small bowl. To make soft-cooked eggs for serving, bring 2 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add the desired number of eggs, cover and steam over medium for 7 minutes. Immediately transfer the eggs to ice water to stop the cooking,

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
6 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
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Harissa, to serve
2 tablespoons ground cumin, toasted
8 soft-cooked eggs, peeled and halved
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
For the soup:
  • 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

  • 6

    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

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice

To garnish:
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

  • Harissa, to serve

  • 2

    tablespoons ground cumin, toasted

  • 8

    soft-cooked eggs, peeled and halved

  • ½

    cup drained capers

  • ½

    cup chopped pitted green olives

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Lemon wedges

Directions
  1. 01
    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 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.
    See Demo
  2. 02
    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. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it browns, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin and harissa, then cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 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.
    See Demo
  3. 03
    Meanwhile, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, combine the bread, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is crisp and light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the croutons cool in pan, then transfer to a bowl. When the chickpeas are tender, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
    See Demo
  4. 04
    To serve, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of croutons in each serving bowl. Ladle chickpeas and broth around them, then drizzle with oil. Garnish to taste with harissa and cumin, then top each portion with 2 soft-cooked egg halves and 1 tablespoon each capers, olives, parsley and cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.
    See Demo
Tip: Don’t use canned chickpeas in this soup. Cooked dried chickpeas—which should be soaked for at least 12 hours—are key to the robust broth.
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Chickpea and Harissa Soup (Lablabi)

Get Ready to Cook

8

Servings

1 hour

Tip

Don’t use canned chickpeas in this soup. Cooked dried chickpeas—which should be soaked for at least 12 hours—are key to the robust broth.

For the soup:
  • 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

  • 6

    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

  • 2

    tablespoons lemon juice

To garnish:
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

  • Harissa, to serve

  • 2

    tablespoons ground cumin, toasted

  • 8

    soft-cooked eggs, peeled and halved

  • ½

    cup drained capers

  • ½

    cup chopped pitted green olives

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Lemon wedges

Step 1 of 4

Soak and drain the chickpeas

2
quarts water
2
cups dried chickpeas
2
tablespoons kosher salt

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 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.

Step 2 of 4

Cook and simmer

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
large yellow onion, chopped (2 cups)
6
garlic cloves, minced
2
tablespoons tomato paste
2
tablespoons ground cumin, toasted
6
tablespoons harissa

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. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it browns, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin and harissa, then cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 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.

Step 3 of 4

Prepare the croutons

8
ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½-inch-thick and torn into bite-size pieces
3
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
tablespoon kosher salt
2
tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, combine the bread, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 1 teaspoon salt.


Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is crisp and light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the croutons cool in pan, then transfer to a bowl.


When the chickpeas are tender, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Step 4 of 4

Garnish and serve

Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Harissa, to serve
2
tablespoons ground cumin, toasted
½
cup drained capers
½
cup chopped pitted green olives
½
cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½
cup chopped fresh cilantro
Lemon wedges

To serve, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of croutons in each serving bowl. Ladle chickpeas and broth around them, then drizzle with oil.


Garnish to taste with harissa and cumin, then top each portion with 2 soft-cooked egg halves and 1 tablespoon each capers, olives, parsley and cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.

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