Error saving – please try again later!

Tunisian spiced chickpea and bread soup (lablabi)

Soup Vegetarian
Serves 6
Prep 25 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min

This soup is a meal in a bowl that will give you all the nourishment and intense flavours you could wish for. Different takes on the theme are widespread, with tinned tuna and olives often served instead of the egg, or alongside the soup.


700g jar chickpeas (liquid reserved) or 400g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in lots of cold water and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 medium-heat dried red chillies
1 cinnamon stick
2L chicken stock (optional)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely crushed in a mortar
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and finely crushed in a mortar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp rose harissa (or ordinary harissa), plus extra to serve, if desired
90ml olive oil
salt and black pepper
3 lemons, 1 juiced, to get 2 tbsp, the rest cut into wedges, to serve
4 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra chopped leaves to garnish
4 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped
6 eggs
300g stale baguette (or other crusty bread), torn into roughly 1cm pieces
3 tbsp capers, drained
60g crisp onions, store-bought or homemade


  1. If using overnight soaked chickpeas, drain the chickpeas, then put them in large saucepan for which you have a lid. Add the bicarb, chillies, cinnamon and 2L chicken stock plus 200ml of water (or 2.2L if only using water), then bring to a boil on a medium-high heat, skimming off any froth as it does so. Cover the pan, then simmer the chickpeas on medium-low for 35-45 minutes, or until they are completely soft (depending on the age of the dried chickpeas, they might take longer).
  2. If using jarred chickpeas, add the whole jar content, chickpeas and water, with 2L of chicken stock (or water). Add chillies and cinnamon, then bring to the boil on a medium-high heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chickpeas are warmed through
  3. Remove the lid, turn the heat to medium-high, then add the garlic, cumin and coriander seeds, tomato paste, harissa, three tablespoons of oil, two and a quarter teaspoons of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir through the lemon juice and herbs, and keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Poach the eggs until done to your liking. Meanwhile, divide the bread between six shallow bowls and ladle the soup over the top. Sprinkle with the capers and some chopped coriander, then top each portion with a poached egg. Scatter over the crisp onions, the remaining three tablespoons of oil and a little more harissa, if you want, and serve with the lemon wedges alongside.