Harissa, Kale and Chickpea Spicy Soup Recipe

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Soup season is upon us. Say goodbye to summer and warm fall days.  I welcome the change with open arms and a big appetite.  As the days get colder and colder, the foods we want to eat are different.  We start to crave comfort foods to provide us with warmth throughout the late fall and winter.  We have enterered the days when it gets dark before 5 o’clock in the afternoon,  and we need warm hats, scarfs, boots etc.  This also means soups, stews, chili, and other comfort  foods we eat less of  in the summer.  Dishes made with root vegetables, grains, legumes.  Simple food to warm the body and soothe the soul.

Although we can get pretty much any fruit or vegetable all year round, it is nice to try and focus on the local vegetables that are around in the winter.   There is still a lot of local produce at the market right now; a plethora of different squashes, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, celery roots, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, turnips, apples.  Some of these local foods are available all year round thanks to their incredible ability to last a long time if stored properly.

Some of you may not be used to cooking with these vegetables.  I urge you to dive in and give them a go.  Try something new.  I will do my best to share as many recipes in the coming months using what local produce is available.  When fresh vegetables are not in season, dried beans and grains are great options.   They are very affordable, healthy, filling, and most importantly delicious.

This harissa, kale and chickpea soup is very simple to make and quite spicy.  It can be made very quickly if using canned chickpeas.The level of heat (spice) can be adjusted by changing the amount of harissa used.  Harissa is a hot chili paste commonly used in North African cuisine.  It is made with chilis, garlic, and spices like coriander and caraway.  It is sold at most supermarkets and specialty shops in a tube.  I used 1 tablespoon and I am not going to lie, it was spicy.  If you don’t want your soup really spicy, I would try 1 teaspoon. You can always try and make your own harissa if you are feeling adventurous. I have yet to do so but a recipe can easily be found on the internet.

I look forward to experimenting and creating all different types of warming and comforting soups, and more in the coming months.  Stay tuned and stay warm.

I would love to hear about some of your favourite soups in the comments section below.

Harissa, Kale and Chickpea Soup 

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1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon harissa (or 1 whole tbsp if you like it quite spicy)
4 cups cooked chickpeas (2x540ml cans)
1 bunch of dinosaur kale, leaves trimmed from stems and chopped into ribbons (about 3 packed cups chopped)
10 cups vegetable broth (homemade if possible)
2 bay leaves
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
sea salt and pepper to taste (amount will really depend on how salty the broth is)
3 tablespoons olive oil

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In a big sauce pan on medium heat, add the olive oil with the garlic and Harissa paste.  Fry for about 1 minute stirring constantly.  Then add the onions, oregano and a little salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent.

Add the chickpeas, bay leaves and vegetable broth to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove 2-3 cups of chickpeas and broth,  a few ladles full.  Blend in an upright blender or in a bowl with an immersion blender.  Add the pureed chickpeas and broth back to the soup.  This will add thickness to the soup.

Add the chopped kale at this point and cook for 15 more minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Just note that you won’t be able to properly taste the soup until it cools a little, so be sure not to over season it when it is piping hot.

Serve in bowls on a cold day.

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