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Tunisian Chickpea Breakfast Soup (Leblebi)
    Serves 4
For the soup:
1 pound chickpeas, washed, picked over and soaked in 2 quarts water for 6 hours or overnight
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 heaped teaspoons cumin seeds, ground
2 tablespoons harissa
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
For the garnishes:
(for quantities, enough to fill small bowls or ramekins that you can set on a tray)
Lemon wedges

Coarse sea salt


Chopped fresh tomatoes

Chopped green and red bell peppers

2 hardboiled eggs, chopped

Rinsed capers

Sliced pickled turnips

Flaked canned tuna fish (oil- or water-packed)
  Freshly ground cumin

Finely chopped fresh parsley

Finely chopped cilantro

Sliced preserved lemons

Croutons or sliced stale bread

Thinly sliced scallions, both white and green parts

Olive oil

Drain the chickpeas and combine with 2 quarts water in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a medium size, heavy nonstick frying pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cumin and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic smells fragrant. Remove from the heat and stir into the beans.

*Advance preparation: The soup can be made to this point a day or two ahead.

After the beans have cooked for an hour, stir in the harissa and salt (2 teaspoons or more). Cover and continue to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the beans are very tender and the broth fragrant. Add lemon juice, taste and adjust salt.

*Advance preparation: The finished soup will taste great for another 3 to 4 days. Keep in the refrigerator.

Serve the soup, passing your choice of condiments on a large tray, or have them laid out on a buffet. Stir the condiments into the soup and enjoy.

Keeping time / leftovers
The cooked chickpeas will keep for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. You will want to refresh the condiments each time you serve.

Leftover Leblebi Salad
Drain the beans, toss with condiments of your choice, and season to taste with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin.

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