This authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe is one of our favourite chickpea soup recipes. It makes a warming, hearty bowl of soup that’s a meal in itself – particularly when served with some oven-fresh flatbread. I learnt to make this chickpea soup in a Marrakech kitchen over ten years ago and haven’t tweaked a thing since. It’s that good.
This authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe is one I’ve been making exactly the same way as it was taught to me by the cook at our Marrakech riad over ten years ago. Morocco was the first stop on the year-long grand tour of the world that launched Grantourismo in 2010 and our mission to inspire you all to travel more locally, more slowly and more experientially. Learning about the local cuisine and produce of places we settled into, shopping the markets, and learning how to cook local food was a key part of our quest that year, as it’s been in the ten and half years since.
During our two weeks in Morocco, we settled into a handsome riad called Dar Rocmarra in Marrakech and did a weekend getaway to Essaouira where we stayed in another charming riad, Dar Lazuli, which had a petite kitchen. There I cooked some of the dishes I learnt to make from Jamila, our Marrakech riad cook, including this authentic Moroccan chickpea soup and this classic lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. Moroccan food was one of the reasons we had wanted to return to Morocco in 2010 – from couscous and tagines to pigeon pastilla, there’s no dish we wouldn’t order in Marrakech’s restaurants and it’s one of the reasons we’re dreaming of returning post-pandemic.
Chickpeas will perhaps go down in culinary history as the ingredient of the pandemic. In the pre COVID-19 times, before we all knew what a coronavirus was and we weren’t afraid of supermarkets, everyone seemed to have a couple of rusty tins of chickpeas (well past their expiry date) in the back of their kitchen cupboards. Now we all have towers of shiny cans of chickpeas front and centre, next to the tin tomatoes and cans of coconut milk and coconut cream.
Along with you and I, every chef, food personality and celebrity seems to have been cooking with chickpeas while they’ve been self-isolating at home, making everything from Jamie Oliver’s pasta e ceci (a Roman pasta and chickpea soup) to Alison Roman’s spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric that became so famous it was hash-tagged on social media as #TheStew and everyone would know what it was – even if it was apparently a Caribbean curry with too few spices and too much coconut milk.
That chickpeas would become a pandemic pantry staple should be no surprise. Chickpeas are comforting, filling and nutritious. Chickpeas are also very versatile. They make one of our favourite Middle Eastern dishes, falafel, and are fantastic in salads, curries, stews, and soups, including this authentic Moroccan chickpea soup. Chickpeas are the perfect quarantine cooking ingredient as they make dishes that that can be stretched out over days, such as the classic hummus recipe we recently posted and of course this authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe.
Authentic Moroccan Chickpea Soup Recipe Straight from a Marrakech Kitchen
This authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe is one of the classics of Moroccan cuisine and, like the tagine, it is perfect winter eating. Many think of Morocco, and Marrakech in particular, of being warm year-round yet both Marrakech and Essaouira can get down to near freezing temperatures overnight in winter.
It was on a chilly day that I learnt to cook this soup at the Marrakech riad we were staying at, along with the lamb tagine, and it was on a cold winter’s evening that I’d make it for Lara at our Essaouira riad, where we dined by a fireplace.
If you know a little about Moroccan cuisine, you may be wondering if this Moroccan chickpea soup recipe makes harira. Morocco’s best-known soup, harira is traditionally eaten at sunset during Ramadan to break the day-time fast, but long served at every market, café, restaurant, and riad hotel across Morocco.
Moroccans will tell you that every region, city, town, village, restaurant, and home will have their own recipe for harira, but there are some must-have ingredients in harira that this Moroccan chickpea soup recipe doesn’t have, including lentils, a protein such as lamb or chicken, pasta or vermicelli, and a thickener, such as flour or eggs.
Whatever you want to call it, it was inevitable that this authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe would become a quarantine cooking favourite, as it’s easy to make and has a relatively short list of ingredients. A tin of chickpeas, a can of tomatoes and chicken stock form the basis of this soup, and vegetarians can easily substitute vegetable stock for this recipe.
Tips to Making this Authentic Moroccan Chickpea Soup Recipe
I know it’s hard times for many of you out there, including ourselves, and given that we have more time on our hands than we’ve ever had and can take five minutes off to stir a stockpot, now is the time to make a decent chicken stock from scratch if you can. Out of my 640 (!) recipes in my Paprika Recipe Manager database, nearly 80 recipes use chicken stock so I make a lot.
To make a chicken stock, I use leftover chicken bones and carcasses and add vegetables such as celery, onion, carrots, and coriander to a stockpot. Cover them with cold water, add some salt and pepper, simmer for 4 to 6 hours, and then strain. Every hour just skim the scum, the foamy layer on top of the stock, and you’re good to go.
If you can’t, by all means use a store-bought chicken stock. That’s the next best thing to making stock from scratch.
If you prefer to make this authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe with dried chickpeas, rather than canned chickpeas, you need to start the day before and soak the dried chickpeas overnight to soften them. Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to soften them faster.
Rinse the chickpeas and add them to a stockpot with water covering the chickpeas by at least one centimetre. Bring it to a boil on high heat, then simmer with the lid on for about one hour. Check the chickpeas at 50 minutes by trying to crush a chickpea with your fingers. If it crushes easily, it’s done.
One of the key things to keep in mind is that a good, rich chickpea soup has a very thick soup base. I find it takes an hour to reduce the soup down to the right consistency.
When it comes to the olive oil and dried spices such as ground cumin, ground paprika and chilli flakes, always try to use the best quality you can afford. If you have some old spices in the back of the kitchen pantry, you can revive them by giving the a quick toast in a skillet. Make sure you shake the pan regularly so they don’t burn. They’ll be ready when they’re fragrant.
Authentic Moroccan Chickpea Soup Recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 50 g onion chopped
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 600 ml chicken stock
- 400 g can peeled tomatoes
- 400 g can chickpeas drained & rinsed
- ½ whole lemon zest and juice
- 1 handful coriander leaves
- 1 piece flatbread cut into triangles, to serve
- 1 tbsp plain yoghurt optional, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then fry the onions until translucent and softened, stirring frequently. Add a pinch of salt. Tip in the cumin and fry for another minute.
- In another saucepan over medium heat, cook the tomatoes until the juice has cooked off and the remaining sauce is very thick in consistency. Add to the other saucepan.
- Add the stock and chickpeas and cook until the soup has reduced and has quite a thick consistency. Add the chilli flakes and the lemon juice. Season to taste.
- When ready, serve the soup and top with a sprinkling of lemon zest, coriander and paprika.
- Serve with flatbread, slices of lemon and the yoghurt.
Do let us know if you make this authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe. We’d love to know how it turns out for you.