There aren’t too many things I love more than a giant, hearty pot of soup, especially at this time of year. When that soup is packed with fiber and nutrition, pantry-friendly, and boldly flavored, so much the better. All of those qualities apply to Celine Steen’s harira, which I’m so happy to be sharing today.
Celine Steen’s blog, Have Cake Will Travel, was one of the earliest vegan blogs I found. I was drawn in by Celine’s clearly written and scrupulously tested recipes, her knack for baking, and her commitment to the vegan lifestyle, which shone through her words.
Over the years, I’ve built up a steady collection of her cookbooks, some of which are co-authored, some of which aren’t: The Great Vegan Protein Book, The Great Vegan Grains Book, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, and Vegans Go Nuts. There are many, many more; Celine is a prolific author, and the range of books she’s written speaks to how thorough her knowledge of vegan cookery is. You can count on her recipes to work exactly as written, to boast user-friendly instructions, and to taste consistently excellent.
Another one of my favorite qualities of Celine’s food is that it’s bold, diverse, and globally inspired. The Great Vegan Grains book introduced me to a number of spice blends I hadn’t tried before, and Celine’s new book, Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking, follows suit.
Celine begins by noting that there are few worse scenarios for a home cook than serving bland food to friends; she also notes that vegan food has long been misperceived as dull and boring. “If only they knew,” she writes, “and now they can! Creating big, bold, exciting flavors for vegan and vegan-friendly cooks is what this book is all about.”
Celine makes good on that promise. The book is divided into four sections: savory (umami-rich), spicy, sweet, and staples. The chapter names are fairly self-explanatory, and the recipes are appropriately rich in seasoning. As someone who came to home cooking with a pretty timid palate—I didn’t grow up eating heavily seasoned or boldly flavored food, so it was very foreign to me for a long time—the book has been a particularly great and informative resource.
Some of my favorite recipes—or rather, the ones I’m most excited to make at home—include the smoky kale and chickpeas with miso peanut drizzle, the gochujang kimchi bowl, red chana dal mujaddara, and red curry scramble with lime-y broccoli. And those are just the savory ones: I’m also intrigued by Celine’s miso sweet cookies and peachy tamari creamy farina (what an unusual breakfast!).
In the meantime, I’m loving this spicy, thick, textured Harira, or Moroccan soup. The recipe is filed under spicy, and it certainly can be, but Celine invites readers to adjust the harissa paste to taste. I kept mine relatively mild, but there’s plenty of room to kick the flavor up further. The soup is brimming with vegetables and chickpeas; you can top it however you like, but I opted for chopped parsley and some of my savory cashew cream (vegan yogurt would also be lovely).
Celine Steen's Harira
- 1 ½ tbsp 23 ml grapeseed oil or olive oil
- 2 medium carrots trimmed, peeled and minced
- 1 medium red onion trimmed, peeled and chopped
- 4 ribs celery heart chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 ¼ cups 111 g chopped leek (I substituted white onion)
- 1 small jalapeño pepper trimmed, seeded and minced (optional)
- 8 oz 227 g chopped baby bella mushrooms
- 1 to 2 tbsp 20 to 40 g Harissa Paste, to taste
- 3 tbsp 49 g double-concentrated tomato paste
- 2 ½ tsp 5 g Ras el Hanout
- ½ tsp Tunisian Baharat
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¾ tsp coarse kosher salt adjust to taste, especially if ras el hanout contains salt
- 1 vegan bouillon cube
- ½ cup 90 g dry red lentils
- 28 oz 794 g fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, with juice
- 28 oz 828 ml water
- 1 ½ cups 256 g cooked chickpeas
- 1 to 2 tbsp 15 to 30 ml lemon juice, to taste
- ½ cup 8 g fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- ½ cup 8 g fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- Dry roasted pine nuts for garnish
- Place the oil, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, leek and jalapeño (if using) in a large pot. Heat on medium-high and cook for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook until their moisture is released, about 4 minutes. Stir frequently during the cooking process.
- Add the harissa paste, tomato paste, ras el hanout, baharat, ginger, turmeric, salt and broth powder. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils, tomatoes, water and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
- Serve topped with fresh herbs and pine nuts. This stew tastes great served with pita and hummus, or try it with steamed potatoes. Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Celine suggests serving the soup with pita bread and hummus. As luck would have it, I’ve been on a homemade pita kick for the last month, and my freezer is now routinely stocked with puffy rounds. So far, I think pita is the best accompaniment for the soup—it’s intentionally a lot denser than others soups, so it begs for something to be scooped up with—but I plan to have some of the leftovers with couscous or rice, too. The recipe yields a lot, so it’s an excellent batch cooking option.
If you’re still figuring out the wide world of spice blends out there, or trying to create them from scratch, this book will walk you through everything you need to know. Beyond that, it’s a perfect resource for anyone who’s hoping to embolden his or her home cooking. I can’t wait to continue exploring it this fall, and in the meantime, I’d love to offer a copy to one of my US or Canadian readers. Enter below to win a copy! I’ll announce a winner in two weeks.
It’s another packed week here, so I’m happy to have plenty of Harira leftovers to get me through it. See you on Sunday!