While thumbing through Mollie Katzen's The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation (I won't mention the relatively new cookbook addition if you won't...), I was immediately drawn to the Lablabi or Tunisian Chickpea Soup. It was mostly likely due to the photo with the soup topped with an egg (one of my favorite things) and then her list of "optional enhancements" to make this simple soup more of a complete meal. Being a 'more is usually better' person, I picked four from the list--the aforementioned fried egg, some harissa paste stirred in, capers (oh, how I love you), and fresh cilantro. It made for a slightly spicy and satisfying hug in a bowl.
Lablabli (Tunisian Chickpea Soup)
Adapted from Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen
(Makes 5-6 Servings--Depending on Enhancements Added)
2 cups (1lb) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
8 cups water
3–4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups minced onion (1 large)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp minced or crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then transfer them to a soup pot, large saucepan, or Dutch oven, along with the water and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the chickpeas are completely tender, an hour or longer. (You want to err on the soft side.)
Meanwhile, place a medium skillet over medium heat for about a minute, then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onion becomes soft. Add the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Cover and cook over the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes longer, then remove from the heat.
When the chickpeas are very tender, add the onion-garlic mixture, scraping in as much as you can of whatever adhered to the pan. Collect the remaining parts (this is flavor!) by adding the lemon juice to the skillet and stirring it around, scraping the sides and bottom (deglazing), then pouring all of this onto the chickpeas as well.
Taste to adjust the salt (you will likely want to add up to another 1/2 teaspoon) and grind in a generous amount of black pepper to taste. At this point, if you choose, you can puree some of the chickpeas with an immersion blender.
Cover and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes or so before serving.
Mollie's Optional Soup Enhancements:
A few strands of saffron added to the cooking water in step 1
A spoonful of harissa
Touches of torn fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint
Crushed red pepper
A poached or fried egg added to each serving
A drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (or a citrus-spiked olive oil)
Cooked diced carrot mixed in
A spoonful of thick yogurt on top
A sprinkling of capers on top
A spoonful or two of cooked brown basmati rice or couscous stirred in
Chopped, pitted olives on top—or a bowl of assorted olives on the side
Crisp, cold radishes on the side—whole or sliced
Chopped or slivered Marcona almonds
Sliced ripe tomatoes on the side
Notes/Results: One of those soups that while simple and good on its own merits, really takes on a whole new life with the add-ins and toppings. There is a wide list to choose from but I was happy with the way the egg yolk added silkiness, the capers a briny bite, the harissa's heat and the herby cilantro. Together it really made the soup sing. It made for a filling and satisfying dinner with good protein and fiber. I will happily make it again.
A Note About Souper Sundays:
Several of you regular Kahakai Kitchen readers and Souper Sundays participants have been asking if it is ever coming back. (If you are new to the blog you can read about the event here.) The answer is... I think so! ;-)
I took a hiatus from hosting this weekly roundup of soups, salads and sandwiches back in May when my mom passed away. It took a long time for me to be able to make or even eat soups without feeling really sad since it was such a big tie to her for me, a giant trigger you might say. Also, I have to confess that I haven't missed spending my Sunday mornings doing a full-on roundup. In healing some of my grief, I have slowly started up making soup again and enjoying the pleasant memories soup brings more than the sad ones.
So, I am thinking I will bring it back in a couple of weeks but do it as a link-up where you (and I) can add soups to a weekly linky post and then the following week, I will roundup some of my favorites from the prior week. A little less work-intensive for me. I'll post the start up date soon and if you have any soups, salads, or sandwiches that you made over the past month or two and want to share, hopefully you'll link them up. Thanks for your patience--I have missed seeing you all and your soups, salads, and sandwiches.