by Jenny Chandler

A Tunisian chickpea and lemon breakfast soup

Lablabi is the traditional breakfast soup served up in virtually every Tunisian cafe. The magical combination of light, lemony broth and more hearty, satisfying chickpeas, bread and poached egg will certainly set you up for the day. This makes a perfect brunch dish. You could plate everything together as I’ve done or serve the basic soup and pass around small bowls with all the garnishes of harissa, herbs and vegetables for your guests to play around with. Either way it makes a fabulous, kaleidoscopic bowl of colour and flavour. If you do get around to cooking your own chickpeas their water will really enhance the broth.


For the broth:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
700g cooked chickpeas or 3 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tsp freshly ground, roasted cumin
1 tbsp harissa paste
850ml chicken stock, vegetable stock or chickpea cooking water
Juice of 1-2 lemons

In the broth:
2-4 slices of good, day old rustic bread, ripped into large pieces
4 very fresh eggs, poached
1 tsp wine vinegar

On the top:
4 tsp harissa paste
1 tbsp parsley or coriander leaves, chopped
2 tbsp capers
12 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 red peppers, roasted, skinned and cut into ribbons (you could cheat and use piquillo peppers from a jar)
1 lemon, sliced into quarters
A dash of extra virgin olive oil


Take a large saucepan and fry the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden.

Add the garlic, and once your kitchen is filled with its fabulous smell throw in the chickpeas, cumin, harissa, a pinch of salt and the cooking water or stock. Simmer for 5 mins.

Squeeze in enough lemon juice to make a really fresh, zippy broth. Season with salt.

Place the ripped bread in individual soup bowls, ladle over the broth and some chickpeas and place the egg on top.

Now for all the garnishes: I usually sit a small blob of harissa on top of the egg and serve some more at the table for anyone after the extra kick. Sprinkle the other delicious bits over the top, then serve.

Recipe: Jenny Chandler