Tunisian chickpea soup

This past weekend was dominated by sport. Flitting between Moscow and London, we spent a chilly weekend indoors, wrapped in woollens with the fire crackling lazily at our feet. While Wimbledon spectators wiped their brows and fanned the air, Joburg was anything but warm. For times such as this, internal warmth is always a good idea and this Tunisian Chickpea soup ticked all the right boxes.

Tunisian chickpea soup

There are a couple of pantry cupboard staples that I’m never without, chickpeas being one. For any hummus lover, tinned chickpeas are essential. I also have dried chickpeas on hand, but for a quick fix, tinned is the way to go. This form the basis of today’s soup. Other core ingredients are barley, coconut milk, spices and vegetable stock. I guess you could say this soup recipe is a store cupboard special. I love that a couple of basic ingredients can be turned into a wholesome and satisfying meal.

If you’ve been following these pages for a while now, you’ll know that Middle Eastern food is possibly one my most loved and often eaten. The melding together of exotic spices, grains and vegetables into dishes that hint at Moorish influences, are for me, without equal. For this soup, I’ve also added spinach, which together with chickpeas, happen to be two ingredients introduced to Spanish cooking by the Moors. History aside, this creamy Tunisian chickpea soup is soothing, simple to make and a thrifty pantry-style supper that I’m sure you’re going to love.

Tunisian chickpea soup


Tunisian chickpea soup

Serves 6

  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) turmeric
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) ground coriander
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 x 400g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 400g tin coconut milk
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
  • 80g (2 cups) baby spinach
  • salt and black pepper
  • toasted almond flakes, to serve


  1. Sauté the onion in the olive oil until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add all the spices and ‘dry fry’ to release all the aromatics. This should only take about a minute or two. Now add the chickpeas, barley, stock and coconut milk.
  3. Cover partially and simmer for 35-40 minutes. The barley should be tender.
  4. Transfer a third of the soup to a blender and blitz until smooth. Add the pureed soup back to the saucepan and stir through. Season lightly with salt and black pepper and add the lemon juice. Add the spinach to the soup and heat through until the leaves are wilted.
  5. Ladle into bowls and scatter over the almond flakes and drizzle with a some coconut milk, if you like.


You may also like Harira vegetable soup with barley and quinoa

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