3 December 2010

Tunisian chickpea soup - Leblebi

Tunisian chickpea soup - Leblebi is classified as street food that is to say it is a typical dish which is served throughout Tunisia and is widely available in most take-away restaurants.  It is a wholesome, vegetarian soup which is eaten at breakfast time - think of it as a healthier more filling alternative to breakfast cereal.  There are several different interpretations of this soup but it is fundamentally a chickpea soup which is made using either a vegetable or chicken broth.  The soup is served piping hot in deep earthenware pots in the winter.  Usually people specify that they want this soup and take a bowl and are given a small loaf of day old bread.  They then break the stale bread into small pieces and the chickpea soup is ladled over the bread.  As well as the broth and the chickpeas, the soup consists of olive oil, harissa (which is a spicy Tunisian paste), onions, garlic, cumin, capers, ground caraway seeds, preserved lemon cut into small pieces and often a coddled egg is added.  Olives and chunks of tinned tuna are optional extras.

Figure 1: A spoonful of Leblebi (the soup in this photograph does not contain any stale bread pieces).

Figure 2:  The leblebi soup is served with a small loaf of fresh crusty bread.

Figure 3:  A serving of pickled vegetables on the side are an optional extra.

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