Friday, January 3, 2014

Lablabi (Tunisian Chickpea Soup)

Sometimes I pick out a recipe and I don't expect much from it.  Take this recipe for instance.  I thought it would be good, but mostly I wanted another easy vegetarian recipe and I got suckered in by the poached egg in the photo.  I'm such a sucker for poached eggs.  Runny egg yolk is my jam.  And yes, I know I sort of mis-used that term.  So I sent Alex the recipe and said "hey, we should make this sometime."  And then we both proceeded to not do anything about it until New Years Eve rolled around and I wanted a simple dish to make for lunch that didn't require too many ingredients from the grocery.  Luckily, we had everything we needed in the fridge.  In the spirit of full disclosure, if we had been short on eggs I would have made a special trip to the grocery store just to get eggs.  There was no way that I was going to make this soup without poached eggs.  It was one of the "optional enhancements" listed in the original recipe but I think it is totally crucial.  Even if I weren't obsessed with poached eggs I would think it was crucial for the recipe as a whole.  Without the egg the soup lacks body and richness.  As the egg yolk melts into the soup it makes the broth a little creamier.  And while we're on the topic, I think the harissa is another necessary element.  If you don't like heat, just add a little, but I think that without harissa you will be missing out.  The same goes for the fresh herbs - the parsley and mint gave the soup some brightness and freshness.  But if you absolutely had to pick one thing to leave out, I would leave out the herbs.  Or the drizzle of evoo.  You could leave that out too. But if you make the soup and add the egg and harissa you will be pleasantly surprised by just how tasty the soup is.  Don't get scared when you taste the chickpeas by themselves prior to adding the garnishes.  They taste a little bland, but the broth is delicious.  And the soup as a whole with the addition of the garnishes is warm and comforting, not to mention really tasty.

Recipe after the jump!

Lablabi (Tunisian Chickpea Soup)
Adapted from Serious Eats

For soup:
2 cups (1 pound) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
8-10 cups water (if you want your soup to be really thick and stew-like, use 8 cups, but if you like your soup thinner, use 10)
pinch safron
3–4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the flat side of a cleaver
2 tbsp evoo
2 cups minced sweet onion (1 large)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp salt, separated (or more to taste)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Black pepper
For garnish:
1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
poached eggs
drizzle high-quality evoo

Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then transfer them to a soup pot, large saucepan, or Dutch oven, along with the water, safron and garlic cloves.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the chickpeas are completely tender, about an hour.

Meanwhile, place a medium skillet over medium heat for about a minute, then add the evoo 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 tsp 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. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and stir, deglazing the pan and scraping up the fond.

After the chickpeas are very tender, add the onion-garlic mixture, scraping in as much as you can of whatever adhered to the pan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and grind in a generous amount of black pepper to taste.

Cover and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes or so before serving.

No comments:

Post a Comment