Garlic soup and harissa
This soup is sweetly delicious and relatively easy to prepare, if you don’t mind a bit of garlic peeling. The harissa adds work but you could substitute a good commercial variety. Still, this one makes a fantastic condiment to keep in your fridge and add to roasted eggplant, vegetable stews and many rice and couscous dishes.
1 red bell pepper
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 medium-hot fresh red chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 to 3 tsp coarse sea salt
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely diced
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
25 medium garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
1 cup white wine
generous pinch of saffron threads
4 bay leaves
1 quart good-quality vegetable stock
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
4 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
roughly chopped cilantro
Greek yogurt (optional)
- To make the harissa. Preheat the grill to high, then grill the bell pepper for 15 to 20 minutes, or until blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and allow to cool. Then peel the pepper and discard its seeds.
- Place a frying pan on low heat and lightly dry-roast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for 2 minutes. Remove them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.
- Add the olive oil to the frying pan and heat, then fry the onion, garlic and chiles on medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, to a dark smoky color. Cool slightly, then tip into a blender or a food processor. Add the remaining harissa ingredients, including the grilled pepper and ground spices, and blitz together to make a paste. Set aside.
- 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 a further 5 minutes. 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 and add the parsley. Blitz with an immersion blender (or regular blender) or a food processor. Do not blend to a complete purée; keep some bits of vegetable for texture.
- Divide the soup among shallow bowls. Swirl in some harissa and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Finish with a dollop of Greek yogurt, if you like.