Middle Eastern Lamb and Chickpea Soup

, from Issue #18. September, 2015
Photography by Vanessa Wu.
Middle Eastern Lamb and Chickpea Soup

Serves: 4-6


800 grams boneless lamb leg steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ teaspoons each ground cumin, coriander and allspice
¼ - ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups good beef stock
3 cups water
½ cup instant couscous
1 x 400 gram tin cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
plain yoghurt for serving


Trim all the fat and skin from the lamb and cut into 1 cm pieces.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, spices and chilli flakes. Cover and cook until tender. Add a splash of water if the spices stick to the bottom of the pan. The water will evaporate as the onion cooks.

Scrape the onions into a bowl and add a little more oil to the saucepan. When hot, add the lamb in batches and cook over a high heat until lightly browned, stirring all the time. When the last batch of lamb has browned add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Tip the onions and lamb back into the saucepan and combine. Add the salt, beef stock and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 50 minutes or until the lamb is very tender. A simmer mat is good for gentle cooking

To serve: Bring the soup back to the boil if made ahead. Add the couscous and the chickpeas, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes for the couscous to finish cooking. Stir in the flat-leaf parsley and ladle into warm soup bowls. Top with a dollop of yoghurt.