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Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s Hawaij Onion and Chickpea Soup with Cheesy Toast

by The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team, Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love

A spin on the classic French onion soup, this Hawaij onion and chickpea soup with cheesy toast is comfort food at its finest.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad


This is based on French onion soup. Similar to the classic, a large quantity of onions is cooked low and slow (use a food processor or mandolin to help you slice them), but everything else from that point on is a deviation. Hawaij is a Yemeni spice blend which complements the sweet onions, adding complexity and warmth, and the chickpeas add bulk, making this a meal in a bowl. The cheesy toast is optional but . . . it is melty cheese on crunchy toast after all, and we really think you should make it.

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50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1.2kg (about 7-8) onions, halved and thinly sliced
250g tomato passata
30g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 tin (400g) of chickpeas, drained (240g)
1.5l chicken or vegetable stock
salt and black pepper
For the spice mix:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods, shells discarded and seeds reserved
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
For the cheesy toast (optional):
220g mature cheddar, roughly grated
10g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
6 slices (350g) sourdough, cut about 2cm thick
15g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tbsp Dijon mustard


Put the butter and oil into a large cast-iron saucepan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, stir in the onions, then turn the heat down to medium and cook, gently, for 1 hour, stirring only every 10 minutes or so. You want the onions to completely soften and turn golden.

Meanwhile, make the spice mix. Put the coriander and cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom and fenugreek into a small frying pan and place it on a medium-high heat. Toast for 5 minutes, then blitz in a spice grinder to a smooth powder (or use a pestle and mortar). Stir in the turmeric and set aside.

When the onions are ready, turn the heat to medium-high. Add the spice mix, passata and fresh coriander and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas, stock, 1¾ teaspoons of salt and a very generous amount of black pepper and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

For the cheesy toast, preheat the oven to its highest grill setting. In a small bowl combine the cheese with the fresh coriander, garlic and a good grind of pepper.

When the soup is almost ready, place the bread on a parchment-lined baking tray. Grill for 1 minute, then remove from the oven and flip over. Brush the untoasted side with the softened butter, then the Dijon mustard. Top with the cheese mixture and grill for 3–4 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Cut each slice into three.

Divide the soup between four bowls and top with a piece of the cheesy toast, serving any extra cheesy toast alongside.

Get ahead: Make the whole soup the day ahead; the flavours will only intensify over time.

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From the book: Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love

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