Thursday, March 13, 2008

High on Harisa - Tunisian Chickpea Soup

A crush of oily red pepper paste stirred in the broth, the
hell fury of harisa (harissa) is hard for a heat junkie to resist.

Dried chickpeas.

Leblebi (Tunisian Chickpea Soup) - Adapted from the Global Gourmet recipe


28 ounces canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR
2 cups dried chickpeas soaked overnight in 2 quarts of water, then drained and rinsed after 1-2 hours of steady, covered simmer until tender [Length of cooking depends on age of chickpeas and heat intensity.]
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
5 cups water
2 generous teaspoons toasted ground cumin (Heat for 5 minutes in a dry skillet or until browned and fragrant.)
2 teaspoons harisa, prepared or homemade
[No additional salt needed. Harisa, capers and preserved lemon all contain salt.]

Any one or more of the following garnishes:

cilantro leaves
parsley leaves
chopped bell pepper
toasted cumin seeds
chopped hard-cooked egg
preserved lemon slices
toasted bread strips or croutons
additional harisa


In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil then add the onion, stirring occasionally until it is translucent and golden without browning. Add garlic, coating with onion mixture before stirring in the chickpeas, water, ground cumin and harisa. Simmer for 30 minutes. Garnish as desired. Serves 4. --

Cilantro, cumin seeds, preserved lemons, capers, and that
extra dollop of harisa, a riot of garnishes for the eyes and tongue.

This post is being submitted to Holler of Tinned Tomatoes, hosting No Croutons Required, a monthly soup event that is also hosted by Lisa of Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen. This month's theme is Spicy Soups.


glamah16 said...

Im a spice junkie too. As I get the older the more I can take.

Asha said...

Drooling!! Almost all the the ingredients are like Indian, love the brilliant color of that Harissa.
I bought a Tagine last week, will have to show off some day!;D
I will be on break from the 20th, spring break, beach and lot of reading ahead!!:)

Nanditha Prabhu said...

can have that bowl please...i cannot resist chick peas!the color is so bright... i can almost taste it:)

Lisa said...

Susan, I just knew you would come up with a delicious soup. Chickpeas are probably my favorite legume, and I always have some homemade harisa on hand; I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for participating!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'm all about the heat and that sounds like a delicious soup! I really like the last photo

sra said...

That sure looks ... bloodthirsty! :D I'm no expert but I find that if I put food in a dish that's the same colour, the effect is usually good. I love the third photo!

Suganya said...

Thats 'Ah-ha, Harissa'. Wickedly delicious.

Cynthia said...

Did you say heat-junkie?! That's why I love you so :)

Simona said...

Lovely, especially the 'I am about to dive into this bowl' third photo.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never tried harisa, Susan - that soup looks comforting and delicious!

katiez said...

Mon mari would love this....
Moi? I'm a little shy of all that heat... But I'd try... as long as I had some yogurt to hand!

Rachel said...

Wow love the colour..I'd like to dig into that now!

Lori Lynn said...

The flavors are screaming through the photos! Wow!

Christina said...

I love this recipe because of its simple base, garnished with a flurry of powerful flavors. It sounds like the chickpea is a vehicle for harissa, cumin, and preserved lemon delivery, and that is an idea that makes me want to put this on the stove right now. Great post.

Lisa said...

How gorgeous. And -- I love preserved lemons! Man, I could just dig into that right now, even though it's too pretty to disturb. ;)

Ann said...

Mmmm! I just made a new batch of harrisa yesterday, so I really must try your soup soon!

Lucy said...

Poetic, spicy, heavenly.

Harissa and preserved lemons are surely the stuff of heady, heat-induced dreams. Each mouthful exciting, yet elegant.

Susan said...

Glamah – I can handle more spice as I get older, too. I’ve heard the theory that some of our tastebuds can dull over time, so we need more to get the same effect, although I will probably be ninety before I can handle habanero. ; )
Thanks, Asha. You’re going to have such fun w/ your tagine. See you when you return from break. Hope you have a great time.
Nanditha – Chickpeas are my all-time favorite legume. That fiery red color is strictly from the harisa, despite the red bowl. The flavor is really spectacular. So good to see you.
Thank you, Lisa. Time prevented me from making my own harisa, but I have jars of it prepared from both Morocco and Tunisia which I am happy with for the moment. Really looking forward to the round-up.
Hi, Mike! Thanks! That last photo tastes even better than it looks.
Sra – Thanks. I promise there are no sharks in that bowl! Color definitely has an effect on us. Sometimes contrast will really pop in an image, but other times, the power of similar hues works best.
Suganya – Wicked…yes…; )
Cynthia – xoxo!
Thanks, Simona. That third bowl could have been crowded with even more and varied tidbits, but I was running out of room!
Patricia – Thank you! Think of grinding up dried red pepper flakes with a few more spices, salt and some olive oil – that’s a general approximation that may, at least, give you an idea. Good to see you!
Hi, Katie! Bread and beer seem to work best to quell the heat. : D
Thanks, Rachel. I’d like some right now, myself; after all, it is traditionally served for breakfast. ; )
Thanks, Lori Lynn. “Screaming” is the operative word. ; )
Christina – Thanks so much. This soup is very, very easy and it *does* deliver!
Thanks, Lisa. Preserved lemons are something else, aren’t they?
Hi, Ann. A little, as you know, goes a long way. Surely you can spare a tablespoon or so for this. ; )
Lucy – Exactly…exciting and elegant. Wish I had prepared twice the quantity, but that is easy enough to remedy.

Meg Wolff said...

Looks like a great recipe!

And I saw Scott's book in yesterday's NYTimes book review. Great write-up.

TBC said...

Wow! The dish has such a gorgeous red color!

Sylvia said...

I love chickpeas, and your soup looks
exotic and delicious, A true explosion of flavours

Rosa said...

I've been on a bit of a chickpea kick myself lately. Love the idea of harissa and preserved lemon!

Richa said...

that roasted ground cumin is beautiful in dishes :)

Kelly-Jane said...

Mmmm, and you first picture is fantastic, it's almost 3-d the way the light hilights the chickpeas, although they are all good =)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I love harissa in soups as well as a marinade or dip. This is super recipe that I'll look forward to trying.

michelle @ TNS said...

that looks *incredible* - the colors are brilliant! talk about eating with your eyes first.

Shaun said...

Susan, lovie ~ WOW! What a beautiful warming soup, topped with largely fresh and all vibrant ingredients. This is a palate-pleasing soup if ever there was one. All soup recipes should start off with sweating onions down :-)

toni said...

As a former New Mexican - bring on 'da heat!!! This looks absolutely fabulous, Susan - all my favorite ingredients.

Ricki said...

Sounds like a fabulous combination. I've had harissa and loved it, so I'm sure I'd enjoy this soup, too!

Vaishali said...

These are such beautiful and vibrant flavors, Susan. I love chickpeas, and the pictures made my mouth water.

Susan said...

Thanks, Meg. We are very excited. The book is going into its fifth printing.
Hi, TBC. Thanks. Harisa is a natural redhead.
Sylvia – Thanks! The soup does have fantastic flavor.
Rosa – Chickpeas are so versatile and easy to come by. The harisa and lemon bump heads beautifully.
Thanks, Richa. Roasted cumin is a whole other animal!
Thanks, Kelly-Jane!
Hi, Susan. Love the idea of a dip. Thanks!
Welcome, Michelle! Thanks for your kind words. If everything looked like Alpo, we’d probably all be rail thin.
; )
I know you, Shaun. You will be mad for this. And sooooo easy. Thanks, dear boy.
Toni – Thanks. I knew this would be a dish after your own heart!
Hi, Ricki! This is a great quick recipe. If you love harisa, you will love this, too. Promise.
Thank you, Vaishali. The harisa will make your mouth water even more. : )

KatyK said...

That chickpea soup sounds so good!

bee said...

gorgeous, glorious, golden goodness.

Susan said...

Welcome, Katyk! Thanks! Good to see you!
Thanks, Bee. Gee, that's quite a mouthful of alliteration you've got going there. ; )

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I'll eat anything with harissa on it, and especially favor the coarser homemade harissa. Married with my favorite no. 1 favorite legume, I'd call that a strong competitor for my "last meal" list!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Yummy! I love chickpeas and this looks like an easy-to-do recipe. Double-love. Thanks!

Kat said...

Hi! I actually lived in Tunisia for a short time and was so excited to find this recipe! I'm going to try it this weekend, but thought I would post a little about how they truly eat this meal!
FIrst, it is eaten any time of the day! There are little stands where this is all they sell.
Second, they always fill a bowl with day-old bread and pour the soup over it. It is a much more hardy meal than just the soup alone.
Third, they almost always put a soft-boiled egg into it. You must insist that they don't in order to not load your soup-bread mixture with runny yoke (although I believe it is quite delicious this way).

Literally, I never finished a full bowl! This is also a winter soup for them, one that can warm from the inside out!

Hope you find these comments interesting!