In a large pan, bring the apricots and their soaking water to the boil. Add the chickpeas and 150ml/ 5fl oz water, and simmer for 30 minutes. (Do not add salt at this point, as this will toughen the beans’ skins.)
Add the lentils, onions and 1 litre/1 3⁄4pt water to the pan, and bring to the boil once again.
Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 2 hours until the beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.