Chickpea soup with sumac and yoghurt


  • Serves 4 - 6 people

This soup is almost a stew with warming spices and lamb added for extra-meaty flavour - it's best eaten on the day it's made because the moghrabieh will continue to soak up a lot of liquid overnight. Start this recipe a day ahead to soak the chickpeas.

  • 3 tsp each cumin seeds and coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 200 gm lamb fillet, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pounded to paste with a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp sweet paprika
  • 150 gm dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
  • 2 litres (8 cups) butcher-quality chicken stock
  • 400 gm canned tomato polpa
  • 1 tsp sumac, or to taste, plus extra to serve
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 250 gm (1½ cups) moghrabieh (see note), rinsed
  • About 1 bunch silverbeet, stalks discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • To serve: coarsely chopped coriander and mint
  • To serve: plain yoghurt
01   Dry-roast whole spices until fragrant (20-30 seconds), cool slightly, then crush with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
02   Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat until hot, add lamb and brown all over (4-6 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and cool, then refrigerate until required.
03   Reduce heat to medium, add onion to pan and stir occasionally until very tender and starting to caramelise (10-12 minutes), adding garlic in the last minute of cooking. Add paprika and crushed spices, stir until colour deepens (1 minute), then add chickpeas and stir to combine. Add stock, tomato, sumac and cayenne pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low-medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are tender (1-1¼ hours). Add moghrabieh and reserved lamb, adjust seasoning and cook until moghrabieh is puffed and tender (35-40 minutes). Thin soup with water if necessary, then add silverbeet and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until silverbeet wilts (2-3 minutes). Serve topped with coriander, mint, extra sumac and a dollop of yoghurt.

Note Moghrabieh, a Middle Eastern pearl couscous, is available from select delicatessens and Middle Eastern grocers.

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