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Tunisian Chickpea Soup


1 cups chickpeas, dried- washed and picked over
Bay leaves
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon harissa
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 cups medium-stale pita, torn (or other flatbread)
cup caperberries-soaked rinsed and drained reserve a couple whole for garnish
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
8 lemon wedges


Soak the chickpeas overnight in about 6 cups of water. Drain and transfer to an ovenproof casserole, along with bay leaves and enough water to cover by 1½ inches. Bake uncovered at 325F until tender, about 2 hours (most should stay intact). During baking, add more water if needed; set aside. While the chickpeas are cooking, toast the cumin seeds in a heavy skillet over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 5 minutes. (Do not burn.) Grind to a fine powder with an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle; set aside. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil until fragrant. Saute the onion, stirring, until tender but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the harissa and ground cumin; cook briefly, just until fragrant. Add the cooked chickpeas, their liquid and the salt. Simmer until the onions have disintegrated, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the heat; season with the vinegar to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Divide the pita among 4 heated soup bowls. Spoon the chickpeas over the bread with equal portions of the liquid. Sprinkle with the caperberries and parsley, and add more harissa to taste. Just before serving, drizzle a bit of the olive oil over each bowl. Serve lemon wedges on the side for extra tartness. Garnish with reserved whole caperberries.

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