Harissa is a spicy Tunisian chile paste often used in North African cooking. Here, a milder version spices up a tomato soup made with fresh vegetable stock, and a good amount of farro is thrown in for good measure, making this a light, nutritious meal.


For the vegetable stock

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 1/2 Cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 Cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 Cup finely diced mushroom
  • 1 leek, white part only, halved and sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Quart water
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 sprigs thyme

For the Harissa

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 white or yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes*
  • 1 Teaspoon cayenne
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the soup

  • 1 Cup farro
  • 1 28-ounce can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


For the vegetable stock: Step 1

In a 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat.

Step 2

Add the onion, carrot, celery, mushroom, leek, and garlic and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add the water and remaining ingredients, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer.

Step 4

Once it reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook until reduced by ½, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard the solids.

For the Harissa: Step 1

Roast the bell pepper directly over a medium gas flame until charred all over, about 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.

Step 2

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes and toast for about 15 seconds.

Step 3

Add the onion and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, peel and chop the bell pepper. Add the bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 5

Then, add the garlic, tomatoes, and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Carefully blend until smooth. Set aside.

For the soup: Step 1

Soak the farro in a bowl of cold water for about 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pot.

Step 2

Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 3

Combine the vegetable stock, harissa, and crushed tomatoes in a pot. Heat through on high heat for about 5 minutes and stir in the farro. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot garnished with parsley.