Growing up, and until only a couple of years ago, I have never been one for soups. I remember always eating a lot of buttered toast with soup as a kid because I wasn’t that keen on the “all one flavour” aspect of eating a bowl of soup. It wasn’t till I started making soup recipes that featured on Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks that I realised how good they could be. Heidi is the queen of interesting vegetarian soups, and once I made a few of her recipes I realised I didn’t dislike soups, it’s just that most other soups I found boring.
To catch up on lost soup eating time, I now make at least one batch a week (in the cooler months anyway), and have really started honing in on what it is I like in a soup. Firstly, it has to be full of flavour, like seriously punchy, and each of the flavours must be balanced. As always, I need them to have a sour note and a fresh component to them (hence finishing them with citrus and fresh herbs in most cases). Secondly, they have to have textural interest, and if they are pureed, they need to be topped with something to finish. Finally, they need to be a meal in themselves. The last thing I want is to have to worry about balancing my meal with a side dish. I like a one pot meal, and anything on the side should just be for taste, rather than a nutritional necessity. In other words – I don’t bother with soups that don’t contain substantial protein.
All that theorising to say is – yes! Here is another soup recipe for you! We’ve got still a month of winter, so we’re gonna need another soup recipe! This one features the preserved lemons I made a few weeks back, and if you haven’t already, there’s still time to make some whilst lemons are in season! This soup is spicy, zesty and full of flavour. A light broth of harissa, lemon and spices, bulked up with chickpeas, buckwheat and potatoes, and freshened up with kale, dill and coriander. There is a lot going on in this soup, and that’s the way I like it. Great as is, or with a spoonful of your favourite nondairy plain yoghurt or sour cream.
Buckwheat is quick cooking, nutritionally dense, and a great gluten free addition to soups where one would usually use barely or farro. Enjoy xx
Harissa Spiced Chickpea and Buckwheat Soup
This soup is a great make-ahead option and freezes well, add fresh herbs and lemon juice upon defrosting. To prepare preserved lemon, discard flesh and rinse rind before chopping to a fine dice. Harissa is a North African condiment made from roasted red peppers, chillies, spices and often preserved/fresh lemon. Harissa varies brand to brand, and is a whole other beast if it’s homemade. I use three teaspoons in the soup below, but depending on how much chilli you like and whether you have a milder harissa paste, this can be increased up to 2 tablespoons. Trust your judgement, you can always add more at the end of cooking – I recommend you to add it little by little, tasting as you go.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Bulgur and Chickpea Spicy Soup” in Plenty More.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Harissa Spiced Chickpea and Buckwheat Soup
150g | 1 medium brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbls | 40 ml olive oil (+ more to serve)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1.5 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp harissa paste (+ more to taste) * See recipe note
2 tbls preserved lemon rind, rinsed and diced (about half a preserved lemon)
60g | 1/3 cup raw buckwheat groats
1.25L | 5 cups good tasting vegetable stock
1 tsp sea salt (+ more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
240g | 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (tinned in fine)
180g | 1 medium potato, roughly chopped 1cm dice
125g | 2 small carrots, roughly chopped 1cm dice
80g | a large handful of cavelo nero (tuscan or lacinato kale), leaves cut into ribbons, stems discarded
2 tbls | 40 ml of fresh lemon juice (half a lemon, + more to serve)
20g fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped (+ more to serve)
20g fresh dill, roughly chopped (+ more to serve)
In a large sauce pan over high heat, cook the onion in the olive oil till softened – 5 min. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute before adding the spices, harissa, and preserved lemon. Cook for a further minute till fragrant then add the buckwheat, stock, salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer to cook for 10min. Then add the chickpeas, potato and carrot, bring back to a boil, cover and lower again to simmer for another 10 minutes till the potato is cooked through.
Add the kale and cook for a few minutes till softened. Add lemon juice, taste and add more harissa and salt if desired (the saltiness will depend on your choice of stock). Just before serving stir through the coriander and dill.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, and extra lemon wedges, dill and coriander.
This soup will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days, add extra water when reheating if soup thickens too much (the buckwheat will absorb some liquid). If freezing, add lemon juice and herbs upon defrosting.