This is a classic Tunisian soup, spiced with harissa, one of the most popular condiments in the Middle East and
North Africa. We became interested in Tunisian food on our many trips to Paris. A significant number
of the kosher restaurants in Paris are Tunisian or Moroccan because of the large number of North African Jews who
have made their home in France. This soup is simple, but with an extra "kick" from the hot harissa. It is an excellent
first course before a tagine or pkaïla or couscous.
In central Illinois, I usually cannot find baby fava beans, so I use lentils. This is an excellent substitution.
Put beans or lentils in a stock pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover; cook slowly
for 30 minutes. Purée the beans.
- 1 pound lentils or baby fava beans
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 4 T. olive oil
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 1 level T. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. harissa*
- water or vegetable broth to make 4 quarts total soup
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel the garlic. In a clean pot, warm the oil, cook the garlic, and add the tomato paste, cumin, and harissa. Add
the bean purée, add water or broth to a soup consistency, and season with salt and pepper. Heat to just
below boiling. Serve with extra harissa on the side.
*Harissa is a North African condiment, available in many Middle-Eastern or French specialty
shops. It is a mixture of hot peppers, garlic, salt, and usually oil. Occasionally coriander or
other herbs are added to the mixture.