Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chickpea Soup with Cumin (Hummus bi'l-Kammun)

The chickpea was so popular from Egypt to Morocco that Alonso de Pimentel, the commander of the La Goletta presidio in Tunisia, wrote in 1570, after receiving large shipments of barley and wheat, "what a misfortune that we have been sent no chickpeas!" This simple soup, a favorite today of Algerian dock workers, is healthy, is filling, and has a nice spicy flavor.

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 1:20 hours


3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon harisa
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 quart water


1. In a medium-size saucepan, simmer the chickpeas in water to cover for 1 hour over medium-low heat, to make them more tender. Drain, remove as much of their white skins as possible by rubbing, and set aside.

2. Put the garlic, olive oil, cumin, paprika, harisa, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper in a stew pot. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas and cook for 15 minutes.

3. Using a small strainer, remove the chickpeas and puree them in a food processor or blender. Return the puree to the soup and stir to blend into a smooth veloute. Or you can serve the soup with the whole chickpeas.

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