Libyan Beef and Chickpea Soup

1 1/2 slices hearty white sandwich bread (2 ounces)
8 ounces 90 percent lean ground beef
Kosher salt
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
14 1/2 -ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies
1/3 to 1/2 cup harissa, plus more to serve
1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 1 cup mashed
Lemon wedges, to serve

In a medium bowl, combine the bread and 3 tablespoons water. Let stand until the bread absorbs the water, about 5 minutes, then use a fork to mash to a smooth paste. Add the ground beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ¼ cup of mint. Use your hands to mix well, then form into 20 balls (1 tablespoon each) and place on a large plate. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes with juices and the harissa, then cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and whole and mashed chickpeas, bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the meatballs and stir gently to distribute. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low and cook until the meatballs are no longer pink at the center, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the remaining ½ cup mint. Taste and season with salt. Serve with lemon wedges and additional harissa.
Tip: Don’t forget to mash 1 cup of the drained chickpeas; the chickpeas’ starch lends body to the soup. A potato masher or fork works best. After adding the meatballs to the pot, don’t stir vigorously or they will break apart.

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