Sunday, July 14, 2013

Garlic Soup with Chickpeas and Harissa: Immunity-Boosting Goodness for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

My immune system sucks. My mom is convinced that it is because I don't eat meat and poultry, even when I remind her that my immune system sucked equally, if not more two years ago and at least now everything I catch doesn't end up trapped in my lungs with me on steroids and the nebulizer for weeks on end. Is any of it due to food choices? Who knows for sure--but I like to think so. What does it have to do with today's soup? Well, mom is convinced that my week-long cold culminating in four days of laryngitis, was due to a lack of chicken soup, and if I would only eat chicken soup, I would get better and get my voice back. My perspective is that any hot soup, full of alliums like shallots and garlic, with some ginger tossed in works just as well. Add some spicy pepper paste, to clear out those sinus passages and I think we have a winner... This Garlic Soup with Harissa by Yotam Ottolenghi.

The recipe takes a soup chock full of garlic--25 cloves in fact, and adds flavor and spice with homemade harissa, which I have been wanting to make and is surprisingly easy to do. Mom still had concerns about the lack of chicken but I added protein by adding a few cups of canned chickpeas. That and the dollop of Greek yogurt on top that Ottolenghi suggests, make this soup satisfying and a good shot for the immune system and almost mom approved. ;-) 

In addition to finding these recipes in Plenty, you can find them at TheGuardian. My few changes to the recipe are in red below.

Garlic Soup with Chickpeas and Harissa
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 4)

For the harissa
1 red bell pepper 
1/4 tsp each coriander seeds, cumin seeds and caraway seeds
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium-hot fresh red chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 Tbsp tomato purée
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2/3 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)

For the soup
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely diced

3 Tbsp butter (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp non-dairy butter)
2 Tbsp olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp)
25 medium garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped  

1 cup white wine 
generous pinch saffron strands
4 bay leaves
1 quart good-quality vegetable stock (I used homemade)

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, or to taste
4 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped 

(I added about 3 cups cooked chickpeas)
fresh coriander, roughly chopped (I omitted)
Greek yogurt (optional)

To make the harissa: Preheat grill to high, then grill pepper 15-20 minutes, or until blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool, then peel and discard the skin and seeds. 

Place a dry frying pan on low heat and lightly dry-roast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and grind to a powder. Add oil to the frying pan, heat and fry the onion, garlic and chillies over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until dark and smoky. Cool slightly, then tip into a blender or food processor. Add remaining harissa ingredients, including the roasted red pepper and spices and blitz together to make a paste. Set aside.

For the soup: Gently fry the shallots and celery with the butter and oil for about 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for five minutes more. Stir in the ginger and thyme. Pour in the wine and leave to simmer for a few minutes, then add the saffron, bay leaves, stock and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Remove the bay leaves, add the parsley. Blitz with an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor. Do not blend to a complete purée--keep some bits of vegetable for texture.

To serve: Divide soup in shallow bowls. Swirl in some harissa and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Finish with a dollop of Greek yogurt, if you like.

Notes/Results: This is a good one! The soup itself is full of flavor--sweet, herby and garlicky and tasty on its own. Stir in the tangy yogurt and add the heat of the harissa paste and it becomes even better. The yogurt is optional--but adds extra flavor and texture. Omit it and change out the butter to make this a vegan option. I would say the chickpeas or another bean, are a must, along with leaving it partially chunky (I puréed about a third of it and added it back into the rest before adding the beans). The texture of the beans along with having the pieces of shallot, garlic and celery make it satisfying. I am going to confess that I wasn't in the mood to peel all that garlic so I used the lazy girl's friend, already peeled cloves from the produce refrigerated section that I just had to slice. My only issue with the soup--I really wished it made more than four servings-worth. It's really delicious. Can't say that it has completely cured me--but four bowls of a good "soup-and-spice-sweat" certainly made me feel better. ;-) I will make both the soup and the harissa again.

A note about the harissa. I have had this condiment before and like the fiery red pepper paste. The Ottolenghi version has great flavor and is easy, much less expensive, and easier to find than store-bought. I made the recipe as directed, except for grinding the spices before tossing them into a food processor. Again, I am lazy and I figured they would be pulverized enough in the processor and they were. I can think of lots of great uses for my harissa leftovers--on veggies, other soups, with fish, etc.

This soup is my entry for our Potluck theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs (a day early) as well as my harissa entry for the Optional Monthly Community Recipe. You can check out all the great Ottolenghi dishes everyone makes by following the links on the post starting tomorrow. 

Now lets visit the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.  

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brings both a soup and a salad this week. About her vegan Mushroom Artichoke Soup she says, "This is one of the best homemade mushroom soups that I have ever made. It's simple, it's vegan, and of course it's gluten free. The combination of mushrooms and artichokes is amazing. I know the temperatures outside have been brutally hot, but I love good soup anytime of the year. I find it soothing  and filling. AND  a bowl of this magical soup is zero Points Plus on Weight Watchers!!"

Judee also shares this Quinoa Lover's Salad and says, "Doesn't this salad look amazing?  It contains quinoa,  fresh spinach, oranges, chick peas and roasted beets making it a nutritional powerhouse of antioxidants and vitamins. In addition, quinoa is high in protein making this salad a meal in a bowl. I also love the light orange citrus dressing, which I found very refreshing."

Janet of The Taste Space offers up a healthy bean-filled salad and says, "While still in Toronto, I was had a cook-date with a friend after work. I suggested making Heidi’s Moroccan Chickpea and Carrot Salad. No cooking required, it was filled with my typical pantry staples. However, not everyone always has a lemon on hand, grows mint in their backyard (I don’t have that anymore), stocks prunes (um, yeah, not me either) or has a spice grinder. So we made do with what she had. Lime instead of lemon, cilantro instead of mint, dates instead of prunes and we kept the cumin seeds intact."

Brittany of Brittany Cooks made this fruity Grilled Peach, Chicken, and Goat Cheese Salad and says, "I love the idea of including fruit in my salad, and thought I would take advantage of the fact that I have so many peaches in my fridge. I remember seeing the original recipe on Eat Live Run about a year ago, and was stoked that I had nearly all the ingredients on hand. I substituted toasted hazelnuts for toasted pine nuts (yes, I slightly over toasted them...oops), and regular balsamic vinegar for white balsamic. I think I may have a thing now for balsamic vinegar and peaches. The pairing just works!

One sandwich this week, a satisfying Baked Eggplant Sandwich from Elizabeth at The Law Student's Cookbook. She says, "This sandwich is based heavily on this recipe. Mine is a little different, in that my tomato sauce is actually tomato paste and cherry tomatoes. And I used Asian eggplant instead of globe eggplant. It was super easy, but packed with flavors."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week with their recipes. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details. 

Have a happy, healthy week! 


  1. Pam Armstrong GreerJuly 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    That soup looks good! No chicken needed!

  2. this looks so good and hope your feeling better soon

  3. Looks delicious, Deb. I, too, still get sick. I am not immune to viruses despite eating vegan.. nor inspite of being vegan. ;) Can't wait to try this one. :)

  4. I really rarely get sick (knock on wood) and I like to think it's BECAUSE I eat so many veggies, but who knows. Could just be luck. I've been meaning to make this soup because homemade harissa - YES.

  5. The soup sounds delicious and a great way to use harissa.

  6. I've been wanting to make this garlic soup ever since I opened my copy of Plenty. Now that it's received two great reviews I simply can't wait to try it. Of course, I will be adding chickpeas to my version as well! I bet the harissa is the perfect complement to this soup. Looks delicious!

  7. Joyce, kitchen flavoursJuly 17, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    That is one delicious looking soup! Garlic makes everything tastes so yummy. I'm having a sore-throat right now and the harissa will have to wait until next week! It sounds wonderful serving with the soup!

  8. Moms are like that. I am forever giving advice to my son and I know he takes it with a grain of salt. Means we love you!!!
    Garlic is certainly a good idea when you are under the weather! But harrissa scares me!

  9. That's a lot of garlic! I love Mexican style garlic soup. Will have to try this version...with chickpeas! Great addition, Deb.

  10. Deb, I made this last week and it was yummy! Love your addition of chickpeas. I'm trying it next week.

  11. 25 cloves of garlic, Perfect. Looks really delicious.
    Moms are too cute..I say the same thing to my little one:).

  12. Couscous & ConsciousnessJuly 22, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    So sorry that you've been sick, Deb - that really sucks. Hope this amazing soup made you feel a bit better. I really need to give this one a try. I love that you added the harissa and chickpeas - funny that for all the uses I have found for my harissa, I so far hadn't thought of adding it to soup. Will definitely be rectifying that!


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