Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tunisian Chickpea Soup with Za'atar Ezekiel Toast and Poached Egg


Il fait frette, and all I want to gulp is a bowl of soup or coffee.

Born and raised in Quebec, I can attest I've experienced my fair share of slushy driving conditions and gliding-through-rush-hour-traffic tales....  I've got plenty of winter car stories! I won't forget January 2015, I was on my way home back from work on schedule to get the kiddies from school, and out of nowhere my car went clunk... clunk.. clunk. "No-o-o-o!" That 'clunk' turned into a flat tire that left me stranded downtown in front of Square-Victoria in the World Trade Center's taxi-only zone during rush-hour. Two hours later, road-side assistance came to my rescue; luckily, Starbucks being everywhere,  I spent my time savoring an evening cup of coffee, making back-up plans for my kids, and roaming on my phone - ouch that Fido bill! I slept like a real mama that night only to wake-up to my usual morning routine until I hit a pot-hole, "BAM!" And there I was, stranded on Saint-Jacques Street with yet again, a second flat tire in less than a day. Luckily, I walked over to Tim Hortons for my morning cup of coffee waiting for my road-side assistance (that made it to me within the hour). Sometimes, I just want to get re-married so someone can manage my flat-tire and prep my car for winter driving (lol, just kidding).

Winter driving aside, there is nothing more refreshing than a winter walk, especially during a pleasant snowfall, gazing at an untouched and twinkling snowy landscape.  On a beautiful evening in December last year, my daughters and I opted for an evening walk under the stars at Centennial park. It wasn't too cold, we had just finished dinner and we were looking forward to get some fresh air 'of some kind'. That night, the only sound that resonated was our laughter echoing in the park while making snow angels, and trailing a trio of boot tracks. We climbed-up to the mini mountain where we began body sledding over and over and over again, à la queue leu leu and solo, "one more time Mommy!" The girls begged "Ok girls, one more time..." X 10, it was fun. That's what I love about being a mom, these kids spark fun and warmth. 

After the winter outdoors, all one craves is a nice warm bowl of soup. I've been exploring all kinds of soup recipes in the past weeks, and opted for a Tunisian chickpea soup. Whether you are a Sephardi from Tunisia or Morocco, no matter how cold it gets, our traditional foods come in handy 365 days a year. Enjoy this  classic!





INGREDIENTS
Prep Time 15 MIN |  Cooking Time 25 MIN | Serves 4 
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • (6 cups) chicken stock
  • 2 x 400 g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • large pinch saffron, optional
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 eggs 
To serve
  • 2 tbps Za'atar
  • 4 slices of Ezekiel toast or any 
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Toasted Chickpeas - mine were store bought
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until softened. 
  3. Add the cumin and ground coriander and saffron and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes or until fragrant. 
  4. Stir in the harissa then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a simmer. 
  5. Cover the pan then cook for about 10 minutes for flavors to develop. 
  6. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes or until tomatoes have just softened.
Ezekiel Toast
  1. With a cooking brush, spread vegetable oil on each slice of bread, sprinkle Za'atar on the surface and toast in a toaster over. 
  2. 5-7 minutes later, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice the bread into cubes.
Poached egg
  1. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and add the vinegar. 
  2. Crack each egg into a saucer then add them, one at a time, to the simmering water. 
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. 
  4. Carefully remove each using a slotted spoon to a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain excess water.
Assembly
  1. Divide the hot soup among large bowls. Place toasted cubes, ad an egg in each bowl. Scatter over za'atar and toasted spicy chickpeas. Serve with extra harissa. Savor after a nice winter walk! Keep warm and healthy!