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.

Coconut-Creamed Corn & Farro

In contrast to the fresh corn dish in my last post, this dish was quick and easy to prepare. It was an “out of the box” vegetarian meal that we all enjoyed. We ate it with roasted broccoli on the side. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. The crispy onions were a fun topping- my son has been adding them to his sandwiches ever since. 🙂

Yield: 4 servings

  • 6 ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs discarded
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 3″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 cup farro or other grains, such as freekeh or quinoa, cooked
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 T store-bought crispy onions
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Cook 1 cup farro according to the package directions. (I cooked 1 cup of Trader Joe’s farro in 2 cups stock for 10 to 12 minutes.) Let rest for an additional 5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Cut kernels from corn; set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. (I used a 12-inch stainless pan.)
  4. Cook chile, ginger, garlic, and 2 sliced scallions, tossing, until softened and fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, just until darkened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add reserved corn and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until corn is beginning to lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add cooked farro and cook, tossing often, until heated through and beginning to crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add 3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk; season with salt, to desired consistency. Bring to a simmer and cook, adding 1–2 T water if needed to loosen, until flavors have melded, about 3 minutes.
  9. Transfer corn mixture to a plate. Top with crispy onions and sliced scallions. Serve with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut Milk & Turmeric

This creamy and indulgent vegetarian stew was hearty and delicious. The dish is based on Southern Indian chickpea stews and some stews found in the Caribbean. I loved how it was loaded with greens (I used Swiss chard) and toppings. An added bonus is that the stew and toppings are made in one pot.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I doubled the onions and garlic, used rainbow chard, and substituted parsley for mint. We ate it over Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wonderful!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4 to 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon, to taste, if desired
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, spinach, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (I used rainbow chard)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves, for serving
  • yogurt, for serving, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted naan, pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving, optional
  • Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, (ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon- as desired) and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they’ve started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey! (I continued to cook the stew to a thicker consistency.)
  5. Add greens and stir, making sure they’re submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you’re using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
  6. Divide among bowls, over rice (if desired) and top with mint/parsley, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita or naan, if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you’d like.

Cream of Fresh Pea Soup

I have one more green soup to share. This bright green soup screams “springtime” to me but it can be a wonderful summertime soup because it is also delicious served chilled. It is a classic soup in my house- I have made it for years using both fresh or frozen peas.

The fresh herbs provide the bright flavor in the finished soup. I have always incorporated fresh dill but I can imagine that it would also be delicious with basil or a combination of fresh herbs.

This recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Fast, healthy, and delicious.

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
  • 4 cups peas, fresh (about 20 oz) or frozen
  • 1 cup milk (low-fat or soy okay)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T minced fresh dill, mint, basil, tarragon, parsley, and/or chives
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and salt, and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the peas, cover again, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender.
  4. Purée the soup with the milk using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, then return the purée to the pot.
  5. Reheat the soup very gently. Add the minced fresh herbs just prior to serving.

Note: This soup also tastes wonderful served at room temperature or chilled.

Lemony Spinach Soup with Farro

It is hard to relay deliciousness when looking at a bowl of “green!” This healthy soup was beyond delicious. Similar to the soup in my last post, this soup also gets its creaminess from puréed potatoes. I also loved that it was loaded with greens and herbs and also incorporated farro (one of my favorites) as a bonus.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a combination of olive oil and butter, homemade turkey stock, and Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro. I also left the potato peels intact and increased the amount of garlic. Yum!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter or olive oil (I used 3 T butter & 1 T olive oil)
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 rosemary or thyme branches
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound tiny potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (unpeeled)
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (I used homemade turkey stock)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt or fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 1 pound baby spinach (about 20 cups)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems (or use dill)
  • 1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more for serving
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • flaky sea salt, for serving
  • Aleppo, Urfa, Turkish or other red-pepper flakes, for serving
  • grated Parmesan or pecorino, optional, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Melt the butter and/or heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, thyme/rosemary and bay leaves; cook 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in the potatoes, stock, 2 cups water, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer, partly covered, until vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add farro and cook according to the timing on the package until just tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.
  6. Discard thyme/rosemary branches and bay leaves from the soup pot.
  7. Add spinach, cilantro and parsley, and simmer uncovered until very soft, 5 to 8 minutes.
  8. Using an immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. (Alternatively, you can purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.)
  9. If necessary, adjust the consistency. If the soup is too thick, add a little water. If it’s too thin, let it simmer uncovered for another few minutes to thicken.
  10. Stir in lemon juice and more salt to taste.
  11. Stir in farro.
  12. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil, a few drops of lemon juice, flaky salt, red-pepper flakes and a little grated cheese, as desired.

Mushroom Bourguignon with Polenta

For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law gave me a beautiful box loaded with goodies from Eataly in New York City. I chose this vegetarian version of this classic French dish to make with the special polenta from my box.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are cooked until they are dark brown, giving the dish a wonderful depth of flavor. I also loved the combination of pearl onions and leeks. Nice.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 6 T butter or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed (I used 3 T each)
  • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as portobello, cremini, white button, shiitake or oyster, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 10 cups)
  • 8 ounces peeled pearl onions (2 cups), larger ones cut in half (I used frozen pearl onions)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large leek or 2 small/medium leeks, white and light green parts, diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves (2 to 4 minced, 1 grated to a paste)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 ½ T all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine
  • 1 ½ cups beef, mushroom or vegetable broth
  • 1 T tamari or soy sauce, plus more to taste (I used dark soy sauce)
  • 3 large fresh thyme branches or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 to 4 ounces shiitake, chanterelle or oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • smoked paprika, for serving
  • polenta, egg noodles or mashed potatoes, for serving (I used Polenta Valsugana)
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving
  1. Add 2 tablespoons butter or oil to a large Dutch oven or pot and set it over medium heat.
  2. When the fat is hot, stir in half the mushrooms and half the pearl onions. (If it doesn’t all fit in the pot in one layer, you might have to do this in three batches, rather than two.) Without moving them around too much, cook the mushrooms until they are brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Stir and let them brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer mushrooms and onions to a large bowl or plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Repeat with another 2 tablespoons butter and the remaining mushrooms and pearl onions, seasoning them as you go.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add another 1 tablespoon butter or oil to pan.
  6. Add leeks and carrot and sauté until the leeks turn lightly golden and start to soften, 5 minutes.
  7. Add the 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté for 1 minute longer.
  8. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  9. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add wine, broth, 1 tablespoon tamari, thyme and bay leaf, scraping up the brown bits at bottom of pot.
  10. Add reserved cooked mushrooms and pearl onions back to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  11. Partly cover the pot and simmer on low heat until carrots and onions are tender and sauce is thick, 30 to 40 minutes. (Meanwhile, at this point, prepare the polenta according to the package directions, if using.)
  12. Taste and add more salt and tamari if needed. Stir in the grated garlic clove.
  13. Just before serving, heat a small skillet over high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon butter or oil. Add half of the sliced chanterelles or oyster mushrooms and let cook without moving until they are crisp and brown on one side, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika. Repeat with remaining butter and mushrooms.
  14. Serve mushroom Bourguignon over polenta, noodles or mashed potatoes, topped with fried mushrooms and parsley.

Spicy Red Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk & Spinach

This Indian stew was fast to prepare, loaded with spices and flavor, and was absolutely fabulous. What a combination! If that wasn’t enough, it was also a hearty vegetarian dish with a little bit of heat. All my favorites.

This recipe is from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. It is a simplified version of a classic Goan dish. I increased the amount of onion and served the stew with warm naan and chopped grape tomatoes on the side as an optional garnish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 T coconut or peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger, divided
  • 2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp freshly ground fennel seeds
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 13.5 to 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
  • unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish, optional
  • chopped tomatoes, for garnish, optional
  1. In a large saucepan over medium to medium-high, combine the onion, oil, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the grated ginger, the mustard seed, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the water, coconut milk, and lentils, then bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the lentils have broken down, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Uncover and stir in the spinach; return to a simmer.
  8. Off the heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of grated ginger and the lime juice.
  9. Season with salt to taste.
  10. Serve, garnished with coconut flakes and chopped tomatoes, as desired.

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