Category Archives: Soup

The Best Vegetarian Brunch Ever – Lablabi

Today’s World Vegetarian Day and though I’m not a vegetarian myself I’m all for spreading the word about the fabulous veggie food that we should all be eating more of – it’s not just better for the planet it’s better for your waistline too. But you know all that, so I’m not going to keep banging on about why you SHOULD be eating this because quite frankly once you’ve tried it you’ll be wanting to make this again and again.

Lablabi is the traditional breakfast soup served in cafés all over Tunisia, it’s the kind of food that seriously sets you up for the day. This chickpea broth can be as fiery and spicy as you like but be sure to add plenty of lemon juice – it’s the tangy zing that really makes the dish. The recipe comes from my book Pulse  (which I must point out is not purely vegetarian but of course, since it deals with legumes, has loads of veggie recipes). The picture is by the very talented  (and gorgeous) photographer Clare Winfield

Clare Winfield, Pulse

I can just about manage a few tablespoons of muesli and a sweet (I know, appalling) coffee for breakfast first thing but from about 10.30 onwards I’m up for anything. Lablabi makes an amazing brunch and with chickpeas, bread and poached egg it’s pretty hearty and satisfying. You can poach eggs ahead of time for a crowd – here are some pretty comprehensive directions

The capers, olives , spices and harissa give the broth a multi- dimensional flavour. It’s up to you whether you serve everything together as we’ve done in the picture or whether you put all the garnishes in diddy bowls for people to zapp up their own serving as much as they’d like – either way you end up with a riot of Mediterranean colour and flavours.

Tunisian chickpea and lemon broth
Lablabi                                    Serves 4

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
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
700 g/1  1/2 lb cooked chickpeas or 3 x 400 g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp harissa paste
salt
800 ml/ 1&1/2 pints vegetable stock or chickpea cooking water
Juice of 1 lemon

In the broth
2-4 slices of good, day old rustic bread, ripped into large pieces (I use sour dough)
4 eggs, poached
1 tsp wine vinegar

On the top
4 tsps harissa paste
1 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp capers
12 black olives, chopped
2 red peppers, roasted, skinned and cut into ribbons (optional)
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 fabulous wafts throw in the chickpeas, cumin, harissa and  a pinch of salt, stir for a couple of minutes and then pour in the liquid. Traditionally this is the broth produced by the chickpeas as they cook but vegetable stock works well too. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Place the ripped bread in individual soup bowls, ladle over the broth, throw in 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 over the other delicious bits and serve.

And if this kind of spicy breakfast brunch/breakfast is your thing and you just haven’t got the time to whip it up yourself here are …..

My Top 3 Brunch Spots
I make no apologies for the fact that two are in Bristol – it’s where I live and the food scene is just great (and ever evolving)

Bakers and Co on the Gloucester Road (Bristol) make the best huevos rancheros this side of Mexico (slow cooked pinto beans, salsas, tortilla and fried egg) and I defy you not to manage to squeeze in an amazing pastry too.

The Souk Kitchen on North Street, Bedminster (Bristol) does fabulous brunches on a Saturday and Sunday. Lots of fragrant North African flavours (as well as a good old English if you must), I had an incredible beetroot and cumin puree with my egg and sourdough last time we went. On Sundays there’s a great food market opposite too (1st Sunday in the month has lots of retro clothes etc too)

Honey and Co Warren Street, London Oh yes, it absolutely lives up to all the hype (haven’t heard the hype? Where the hell have you been?- certainly not reading my blog!) As well as having published 2 of my favourite recipe books ever, these guys serve up a simply amazing brunch . The shakshuka (eggs in a spiced tomato sauce) is to die for, their aubeginey-feta frittata just heaven, the cakes on the windowsill just can’t be resisted. GO. On weekdays there’s a great breakfast menu, on Saturdays it becomes a feast (closed Sunday).

Frugal but Fab’ Chickpea, Chilli and Mint Soup

Today’s recipe is cheap to make, has very few ingredients and only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s also one of those dishes that seems to taste so much better than it ought to; the whole, quite simply is, better than the sum of its parts.

Jenny Chandler Frugal Chickpea soupI’ve chosen this fabulous soup recipe for a couple of very good reasons. As you know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I am rather obsessed with pulses, chickpeas in particular. Secondly I’ve been challenged by the guys at The Hunger Project to come up with a supper recipe that costs under 33 pence per serving to tie in with World Hunger Day on 28th May. This part of the My Voucher Code World Hunger Campaign – you can take a look and see if you’d like to get involved too.

I have to say that I am constantly badgered by emails asking me to support “Days” and quite frankly most of them annoy the hell out of me. So someone just decided that we should have a “National Sandwich Week”, a “World Doughnut Day” (yes it does exist!) or worse still “Happiness Day” (for God’s sake what happens if your dog’s died or you’ve just received a parking ticket?- it’s ridiculous) However, (rant over), I do concede that there are a few of these “Days ” that can help raise awareness about much bigger issues and, of course World Hunger Day is one of them. You can find more out about the aims and achievements of The Hunger Project in some truly inspiring stories on their website.

The 33p price tag per portion does rely on you buying your chillis and mint from a local greengrocer or an Asian/Middle Eastern store (where you’ll undoubtedly do better than those silly little, extortionately priced, supermarket packets). You can use any left overs in an equally economical ginger masoor (red lentil) dal

Chickpea, Chilli and Mint Soup
Serves 4-6Frugal ingredients

You can blend this with a stick blender in the pan if you want to keep the washing up to a minimum, but if you do have the time this becomes beautifully silky and creamy when well whizzed in a blender.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 – 3 red chillis chopped finely
500 g/1lb cooked chickpeas or (less economical) 2 x 400 g/14 oz tin of chickpeas
1 litre/1 1/4 pints vegetable or chicken stock (you can use a stock cube)
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
salt

Plenty of mint leaves, sliced.

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

Add the garlic and the chilli then, as soon as you can really smell the sizzling garlic, throw in the chickpeas and the stock.

Simmer for about 10 minutes and then blitz the soup with a stick blender for convenience or, for a smoother result, use a blender.

Taste. The soup will seem rather bland, don’t worry the salt, plenty of zippy lemon juice and the fresh mint will work wonders. Season the soup well and serve.

How about?
Toasting a bit of yesterday’s bread and putting it in the bottom of your soup bowl. Allow the bread to soak up the soup and collapse into a tasty and satisfying gloop – great if you’re really hungry, this also makes the dish a fully balanced, protein-rich meal.

Adding lime juice and coriander instead of lemon juice and mint.

And just a word about the rather twee “Chez Jenny” tablecloth in the finished soup picture – it’s actually one of those ancient roller towels. It’s old and authentic, it just happened to have my name on it. I found it in The Cloth Shop  in Notting Hill, London.
Come on, if there’d been one with your name on it, you wouldn’t have been able to resist either!