Moroccan Chickpea Souk…erm…Soup!

chickpea-soupMy favourite winter warmer for over 20 years now; Moroccan Chickpea Soup. The recipe was originally given to me my older sister before I headed off to university in 1994, and I still have the hand-written recipe book I took to uni (complete with scruffy teenage handwriting as the photo shows).

That original book has grown over the years to include around 60 tried and tested recipes that have served me well and I will share all of them in due course, but for now it’s back to harissa flavoured business…

This works as a great starter for a wholesome main course, or works as a filling meal on its own with a big bowlful per person.

Preparation Time: c.20 mins
Cooking Time: c.45 mins
Serves: 4 people (main course), 6-8 as a starter


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp. harissa paste
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded & chopped
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 bay leaves
400g can chopped tomatoes
500g floury potatoes (e.g. maris piper), cubed
420g can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
4 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander
200ml half-fat crème fraiche
Seasoning – ground black pepper & sea salt


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan & fry the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the harissa, garlic, cumin seeds, ground coriander & cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring once or more.
  2. Add vegetable stock, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and chopped tomatoes. Bring this to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, carrots, red pepper and chickpeas and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add seasoning – ground black pepper and sea salt.
  5. In a small bowl stir the chopped coriander into the crème fraiche and add a little bit of ground black pepper.
  6. Serve the soup in a warmed bowl and top with a spoonful of the coriander favoured crème fraiche. Add a warm flat bread or pitta on the side to mop up the goodness at the end!

To spice things up a little more you can increase the amount of harissa you use initially, or add a little bit of chilli powder or some paprika. Try to use a decent quality stock too as it does make a difference. Adding some parsnips brings an extra layer of ever so slightly sweeter flavour to it also.

In fact, use the recipe above as a base and throw in whatever floats your boat at the time, or add in any extra veg that you need to use up…peas work just fine in it too, as does sweet potato.

Drink – A decent Rioja goes best with this, in my humble opinion.

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