If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently bought a new (to me) ingredient – harissa paste. In the past couple years, I’ve developed a taste for spicy food. Grant it, not as much as Jordan but I too enjoy some spice in my food. Basically, harissa paste is a flavorful and spicy chili paste, popular in North African cooking. After some research, I decided to buy some from amazon for my first foray. I’m sure later I’ll try making my own but I needed to have some sort of baseline to compare. I love that it came in a resealable tube, so it will stay fresh forever. It’s the little things people =).

I have lots of recipes lined up to try, but this Spicy Chickpea and Bulgur Soup was first up. Other than the harissa paste, the ingredient line-up is pretty unremarkable – celery, carrots, chickpeas, and chicken stock. Mostly, ingredients you probably keep on hand. The original recipe uses bulgur and I happen to love bulgur but if you aren’t a fan or don’t have any on hand, you can easily swap in your favorite grain. I’m sure rice, quinoa, farro, or barley would be equally delicious. The greek yogurt, feta, and cilantro paste really takes this soup to the next level! The flavor combination is seriously so good and you can have this soup on the table in 30 minutes or less…#winning. The harissa paste does bring the heat, but you can easily scale back slightly if your family is sensitive to spicy foods.

This recipe serves 4-6, so if you think you may have leftovers I would recommend leaving the chickpea/vegetable mixture separate from the cooked bulgur and just mix each serving individually. If you mix it all together, the bulgur will continue to absorb liquid and your leftovers may become too thick. This would be the perfect dinner for meatless Mondays…or any day! Enjoy!

Spicy Chickpea and Bulgur Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch dice
4 celery stalks, cut into 3/8-inch dice
2 tbsp harissa paste (scale back if you are sensitive to heat!)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp whole caraway seeds
2 (15 oz cans) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup bulgur, uncooked (see note below for substitutions)
salt and pepper, to taste

3-1/2 oz (100 g) feta, broken into large chunks
1/4 cup (60 g) plain non-fat or 2% greek yogurt
1 cup (15 g) cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Put the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking for another 8 minutes.
2. Add the harissa, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and caraway seeds and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well. Gently mix the chickpeas into the vegetable mixture.  Add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook bulgur according to package directions. Set aside.
4. To make the feta paste, put the feta, greek yogurt, and cilantro in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes, until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Keep in the fridge until needed.
5. Before serving, add the cooked bulgur to the soup and bring to a gentle simmer (see note below if you will have leftovers). Divide the soup among bowls, add a spoonful of feta paste to each bowl, top with some extra cilantro, and serve at once. Serves 4-6.
*adapted from Plenty More

1. If you can’t find bulgur, you could substitute farro, brown rice, quinoa, or grain of choice.
2. If you know you will have leftovers, store the bulgur and vegetable/chickpea mixture separate. Then, mix together when reheating.
3. You can find harissa paste at specialty markets, amazon, or make your own.

Categories: Main Dish, Soups

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