Last night, my husband Bill and I were feeling a little under the weather. I’m not sure if we had a virus or we were just bummed out about winter, but neither of us felt very well. It was the perfect night for soup and we both knew exactly which kind we wanted, Tunisian Chickpea Soup. This soup, which we just discovered last year, has quick;y become a favorite in our house. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes delicious!
I got the recipe for Tunisian Chickpea Soup from a cookbook called Soup Classics, written by Linda Johnson Larsen. I purchased this book as a Christmas present for Bill back in 2009. We’ve used it several times since then; it has some wonderful recipes, along with excellent photographs by Debi Harbin. Bill and I have adapted this recipe somewhat, mainly because there are a couple of ingredients in it that we can’t easily get from our supermarket.
Ingredients (serves 6)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (Bill and I use cumin powder)
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, strained and rinsed
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons harissa or 1 teaspoon chili paste (Bill and I omit this ingredient)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 pieces of garlic toast
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
In a large pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Add cumin seeds or powder, cook and stir until fragrant. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper. Cook and stir for a few minutes until tender. Add chickpeas, broth, harisa or chili paste and pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until blended. Stir in lemon juice. Place garlic toast in shallow soup bowl. Spoon soup over toast and drizzle with olive oil. Your soup is ready to serve.
Slow Cooker Method
Make this soup as directed, but use a pound of dried chickpeas instead of canned. Soak them overnight, then rinse, drain, and boil for an hour. Combine all ingredients in a four quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low for eight or nine hours.
Bill and I usually serve Tunisian Chickpea Soup with the garlic toast on the side. It can also be made with other beans besides chickpeas. Black beans or pinto beans make excellent substitutions. If you prefer a richer soup, you can use beef broth or stock in place of the chicken or vegetable stock. If you want to make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. A pinch of coriander and caraway added to chili paste can make up for the lack of harissa.
We love this soup! Although chickpeas are a bit calorie dense, they make a great replacement for meat. Best of all, Tunisian Chickpea Soup is quick and easy to make and keeps well. It’s just the thing to perk someone up who’s under the weather. If you’re a soup lover, I highly recommend Linda Johnson Larsen’s Soup Classics cookbook. It’s a great tool for making wonderful homemade soups, chowders, and bisques.
Larsen, Linda Johnson. Soup Classics. Guilford, Connecticut: Knack Books, 2010.