The Architecture of Soup

Flavor-packed soups rich in texture and color that will warm you up—and fill you up.

By Diana Pittet


the architecture of soup—lablabiLablabi

Incredibly easy to make, lablabi is a chickpea stew from Tunisia that captures the sunny flavors of the southern Mediterranean. It's eaten at any time of the day, but particularly at breakfast, and is prepared with Tunisia's culinary trinity of harissa (a fiery red-pepper paste), preserved lemons, and olive oil. This recipe comes from Majid Mahjoub, who manages an olive-oil business in Tunisia and produces exquisite organic condiments under the label Les Moulins Mahjoub. For this soup, you do most of the construction at the table with your guests, making it perfect for a party.

For the soup:

  • 4 15.5-ounce cans of chickpeas, about 6 cups
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 slices of day-old bread, broken into small pieces


For the garnishes:

  • 1 preserved lemon, sliced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 6 teaspoons rinsed capers, preferably salted
  • 6 teaspoons Tunisian harissa
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Strain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to a 4-quart pot with 6 cups of water, the garlic, and the salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the chickpeas are heated through. To serve, place one crumbled slice of bread in each bowl and fill with the hot broth and chickpeas. Garnish with slices of preserved lemon and sun-dried tomatoes, a pinch of cumin, a teaspoon each of harissa (more or less to taste) and capers, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Makes 6 servings