For Tunisians, the best cure-all during cold and flu season is a popular soup called lablabi. It’s often eaten for breakfast over there, but it’s hot in temperature and very hot in spice, which I think is perfect for when you need to warm up from the inside out. Lablabi is a soup with a thin, harissa-spiced broth, loaded with onions, garlic, and chickpeas. Traditionally dried chickpeas are used, and then the chickpea cooking liquid is included as part of the broth. But I can’t imagine not feeling well and being patient enough for the arduous soaking and simmering process to soften them – it’s not happening. So canned chickpeas are the way to go in my recipe if you’re of the same mind. But if you feel like taking the scenic route, please do. The fun part about lablabi is in the toppings because no bowl is complete without fixins in Tunisia. Choose from ingredients like flaked tuna, poached eggs, day-old bread, capers, olives, fresh herbs, and tomatoes to customize your bowl. Harissa comes in both paste and powdered form, but I vote for the latter because it is much easier to find in my regular grocery store and has more variety in flavour profile.
What you need:
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoon harissa spice
- 1 x 540 millilitres can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 ½ cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
- Juice from ¼ of a lemon, freshly squeezed
- shredded tuna
- poached eggs
- fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro (if it doesn’t taste like soap to you)
- torn day-old bread
- olives, chopped or whole
- chopped tomatoes
- slivered almonds
- plain yogurt
What you do:
- Heat a large saucepan over medium. Once heated add oil, onion, garlic, cumin seeds, and salt. Sweat 2 minutes until onions are soft and translucent, and cumin is fragrant.
- Add harissa, chickpeas, and water/stock. Bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve hot, garnished as desired.