This hearty vegetable soup is a filling meal in its own right. Charring the eggplant and capsicum in advance will lend it a smoky depth of flavour. The trick is to throw these under a hot grill for around 10 minutes (with lots of olive oil and some salt) before adding them to the soup. It's an additional step but will lend the soup a wonderful aroma. We used a touch of harissa paste to give it a North African dimension and a bit more punch, but you can use tomato puree instead.
Our Fez blend lends the soup a subtle spicy kick and imbues it with warming, earthy notes. Israeli couscous is a nice substitute for the traditional pasta or noodles addition. This will be your wintery go-to soup. And it'll taste even better the next day so you can make it on a Sunday so you have a delicious warming soup awaiting you on Monday night. Oh, and it's packed with nutrients and 100% vegetarian. Bliss!
- 2 medium sized carrots, sliced into 1cm chunks
- Olive oil (extra virgin if possible)
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1-2 spring onions
- 1 red capsicum, cut into long strips (around 2cm wide)
- 1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 3cm cubes
- 1 x 400g tinned chickpeas, drained
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- around 100g Israeli / pearl couscous
- 20g coriander, chopped roughly (stalks included)
- 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 1 litre good quality vegetable stock
- Harissa paste (or tomato puree if preferred)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat your grill to maximum heat. Place the eggplant and capsicum on 2 small trays, drizzle generously with olive oil and season with some salt. Mix with your hands so that the vegetables are covered with the olive oil and salt all over and grill. The eggplant should need around 12 minutes and the capsicum around 10 minutes, or until each is softened and nicely charred. Remove from the grill and set aside.
- In a large non-stick saucepan, heat a good lug of olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and carrots with 2 heaped teaspoons of Fez for around 4 minutes on medium heat until the vegetables have softened and have a golden colour. Now add the garlic, stir and keep cooking for another minute.
- Add the vegetable stock, eggplant, capsicum, chickpeas, coriander and 2 tablespoons of harissa paste (or tomato puree if preferred) to the saucepan. Then add 2 teaspoons of Fez, stir well, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add the Israeli/pearl couscous, stir and simmer for another 10-12 minutes until the couscous is soft and cooked through. Add some water to thin the consistency a bit, if the soup is too thick. Taste again and season to perfection. Serve with a slice of fresh crusty bread or on its own! You can also add a sprinkle of your favourite herbs over the soup before serving.