Soup is the answer to the question: What's for breakfast?

  • Lablabi soup.

    Lablabi soup. M. Eileen Brown | Staff Photographer

Posted9/8/2021 6:00 AM

Back in my college days, I would eat anything for breakfast. Cold pizza. Leftover chili. Maybe even a salami sandwich, if that's what was in the fridge.

Food selection had less to do with what was "appropriate" and more to do with what was available.


Add in the fact -- I may have been breaking the fast at noon -- or later.

Eating soup first thing in the morning is not something I have ever done on purpose.

But plenty of cultures do. In Mexico, they might start their day with menudo. Columbians opt for changua, eggs poached in broth with onions, salt and cilantro. And in Japan, miso soup can be the perfect start to the day.

There's a certain logical goodness attached to the notion of starting the day with soup. It is comforting. It's easy (especially if you make it ahead of time). It gets you off to a healthy start.

When you think about it, it's kind of weird we don't eat soup for breakfast.

What follows is a recipe for Lablabi -- or Tunisian Chickpea Soup. It's easy to make, just a tad spicy and is a satisfying way to get yourself going in the morning.

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Don't be tempted to use canned chickpeas. Take the time to use the dried ones and soak them overnight. That way, you can control the firmness and texture of the beans, leaving them with a slight chew.

This soup is ladled over chunks of stale or toasted bread in Indonesia and topped with a poached egg and chopped herbs. A squeeze of lemon juice adds a nice pop of flavor.

Hmmm, eggs and toast? Just like breakfast.

• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at

Breakfast Lablabi

2 cups dried chickpeas

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped (2 cups)

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste


2 tablespoons ground cumin, toasted

6 tablespoons harissa paste

3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth or water

For the topping

8 ounces crusty white bread, sliced ½-inch-thick and torn into bite-size pieces

½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 soft boiled eggs

Olive oil for drizzling

Lemon wedges

Soak the chickpeas in a bowl of water with 1 tablespoon salt. Let them soak overnight -- at least 12 hours. Drain and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onion for about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Add the tomato paste and cook until it browns for about another minute. Stir in the harissa and cumin for a minute. Add the chickpeas and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil over high and reduce to medium. Simmer uncovered until the chickpeas are tender -- about one hour.

To serve, divide bread, chopped parsley and cilantro between 4 soup bowls. Scoop an egg from the shell into each bowl, pour soup on top, and drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4

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