Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

I am a big fan of toppings, so this creamy, earthy, and hearty vegetarian soup caught my eye. It is served over toasted chunks of bread and then garnished with crunchy, spiced chickpeas, lemon zest, parsley, a sprinkle of cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. I also loved that the soup incorporated a little spice from harissa.

This recipe was adapted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan, via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans which significantly expedited the cooking process. I also served the soup over toasted sourdough boule chunks in lieu of rustic bread. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar, plus more to taste

For the Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 loaf hearty rustic bread (about 6 to 8 ounces)(I used 1/2 of a sourdough boule)
  • 1 cup chopped onion, from 1 medium onion
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 T), for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

To Prepare the Crispy Chickpeas:

  1. Transfer the rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  2. Cover with another towel (or paper towels) on top, rubbing gently to dry.
  3. Remove top towel and let air-dry for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. (I let them dry for 2+ hours.)

To Prepare the Soup:

  1. In a pressure cooker (I used a stove-top pressure cooker), combine soaked chickpeas, 5 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot.)
  2. Place the pot over high heat, until the pressure cooker reaches the second ring (high). Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure for 35 minutes. (If using a stockpot, bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.)
  3. Remove from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. While chickpeas are cooking, cut bread into thick slices, then tear or cut slices into bite-size pieces.
  6. Place bread in one layer on large rimmed baking sheet and toast until crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan and set aside.
  7. Finish the crunchy chickpeas: Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the towels from baking sheet with the chickpeas, and toss the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and za’atar until well coated.
  9. Roast until golden and crispy, about 13 to 18 minutes, tossing halfway through. When chickpeas are still hot, sprinkle lightly with more salt. Taste and add more salt or za’atar, or both, as desired.
  10. When the chickpeas for the soup are tender, discard bay leaves.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil to a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  12. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
  13. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
  15. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cumin and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add a splash of the chickpea cooking liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat.
  16. Add chickpea purée and onion mixture to soup, along with harissa and lemon juice, and stir well. Add a little water if soup seems too thick, and more salt, if needed.
  17. To serve, divide toasted bread pieces among soup bowls, then ladle in soup.
  18. Garnish with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil, more cumin and some of the crispy chickpeas — you’ll have leftovers. Serve hot, with more harissa on the side, as desired.

Sheet Pan Meatballs with Chickpeas, Turmeric, and Lemon

This is a wonderful weeknight sheet-pan dish. It was full-flavored and relatively healthy too. I think I’m in love with crispy roasted chickpeas!

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com, where the dish was loosely based on a New York Times sheet-pan chicken dish that I’ve also made and posted. I increased the amount of ground turkey, and meatball seasonings, size, as well as cooking time. I also used cumin seeds instead of fennel seeds.

We ate it with warm naan, brown Basmati rice, and roasted asparagus. The lemony red onions and yogurt toppings were essential and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6

Time: about 1 hour

For the Chickpeas:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, hot paprika, or red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint leaves, or a mix thereof, plus more to garnish

To Serve:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 3/4 of a lemon)
  • 7 oz (almost 1 cup) plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted pita wedges or naan
  • harissa or another hot sauce, as desired
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine chickpeas, cumin seed, cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes, until beginning to firm/crisp up. (The red onions will start to get very crispy and charred.)
  5. Meanwhile, make meatball mixture. Mix all ingredients- except the ground meat- in a large bowl with a fork. Then incorporate the meat.
  6. Form into 1.75-inch (about 2 T) meatballs, about 15 large meatballs. (I used 3 small cookie scoop scoops for each meatball.)
  7. Remove sheet pan with chickpeas from the oven (leave oven on) and move the chickpeas to the sides of the pan, clearing a space in the center.
  8. Lightly coat center with a thin coat of oil, either brush or spray it on, just to be safe. Position the meatballs in the center of the pan; I made 3 rows of 5 meatballs. Place baking sheet in oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through, about 165 degrees in the center.
  9. Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  10. Combine yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  11. When meatballs are cooked, scatter remaining fresh herbs over the tray.
  12. Serve with lemony onions and yogurt, toasted pita wedges, rice, and hot sauce, as desired.

Two Years Ago: Broken Pasta with Shredded Pork & Arugula

Three Years Ago: Indian Butter Chicken

Four Years Ago: Caramel Chicken

Five Years Ago: Chicken Teriyaki Plate and Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

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