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Hawaij onion and chickpea soup

new and delightful flavours to try


Our fabulous customers often influence our catering menu and inspire new ideas. This is exactly what happened recently when a very regular customer asked if we had any new soup recipes, she has been very happy with all we had previously catered, it was simply a question which we grabbed as an opportunity.

I will tell anyone who listens exactly how much I miss my chef friends from London. Thank gawd for the internet which allows the distance to seem ever so slightly less, it’s really the only thing that allows me to deal!

All of these are so very unusually delicious and worth trying, or buying through us, we are very grateful to be your catering solution!

Hawaij onion and chickpea soup

This take on French onion soup features hawaij, a Yemeni spice blend that complements the sweet onions, and brings with it extra complexity and warmth. The cheesy bread is optional. If you prefer to keep the soup vegan, use vegetable stock instead of chicken and extra oil instead of butter.

Prep 30 min
Cook 1 hr 50 min
Serves 4 generously

75ml olive oil, or 50g unsalted butter plus 2 tbsp olive oil
1.2kg onions (ie, about 7-8), peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods, seeds removed and shells discarded
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
250g tomato passata
30g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained (240g net weight)
1.5 litre vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and black pepper

For the cheesy bread (optional)
220g mature cheddar, roughly grated
10g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
6 slices sourdough, cut about 2cm thick
15g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp dijon mustard

Put the oil (or butter and two tablespoons of oil) in a large, cast-iron saucepan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, stir to coat them in the fat, then turn the heat to medium and cook gently for an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until completely soft and golden.

Meanwhile, make the spice mix. Put the coriander and cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom and fenugreek in a small frying pan on a medium-high heat. Toast, shaking the pan frequently, for five to six minutes, until fragrant, then tip into a spice grinder and blitz to a powder. Stir in the turmeric and set aside.

When the onions are done, turn up the heat to medium-high, add the spice mix, passata and fresh coriander, and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Add the chickpeas, stock, one and three-quarter teaspoons of salt and a very generous amount of pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

For the cheesy bread, if making, heat the grill to its highest setting. In a small bowl, mix the cheese with the coriander, garlic and a good grind of pepper. When the soup is close to ready, put the bread on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, grill it for a minute, then remove from the oven and flip over. Brush the untoasted side first with butter and then mustard, top with the cheese mixture and grill for three or four minutes more, until golden and bubbly. Cut each slice into three.