Harissa-spiced Carrot, Kale, and Chickpea Soup

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In an effort to reduce our food waste, I've been trying to use up virtually all of our produce and perishable items before going to the store and buying fresh. This means getting creative and utilizing our pantry more than ever.

It also means lots of soup. Soup is the ultimate transformer of ingredients - taking random bits from the fridge and turning them into so much more than the sum of their individual parts. 

Case in point, this Harissa-spiced Carrot and Kale Soup. Ravi and I had been away for the weekend visiting his parents and I had a grocery run scheduled for the next day. But, we still needed dinner on the table that night. I had a few straggler carrots and a couple handfuls of chopped kale from meal prep earlier in the week. A quick run through our spice cabinet and pantry - chickpeas, tomato paste, vegetable broth, and a moment of oh! I should really use this harissa that I bought a while ago and still haven't opened. Dinner solved. 

This soup is really a blue-print too. If you don't have harissa, try chili powder and increase the amount of cumin. Then finish the soup with cilantro and lime instead of the thyme and lemon.

Harissa-Spiced Carrot and Kale Soup

Serves 2-3 as a main

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 rounded tablespoons. tomato paste
1 tablespoon harissa paste or dry spice blend
*reduce amount depending on spice tolerance (I used Frontier Co-Op)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
4-5 thyme sprigs, plus more to garnish
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small bunch kale, stems removed and finely chopped
juice from half a lemon
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To garnish: 
Lemon (wedges + zest)
Coconut yogurt
Fresh chili peppers, thinly sliced
Thyme leaves

Heat a large Dutch oven or stock pot to medium. Add olive oil, onion, carrot, bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook another 60 seconds. Add tomato paste, harissa, cumin, turmeric, and another 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for another minute or so until fragrant and tomato paste starts to caramelize on bottom of pot. Add vegetable broth, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add chickpeas and kale. Simmer another 10 minutes. Finish with lemon juice and several grinds black pepper. Taste and adjust salt as needed. 

To serve, garnish with lemon zest/juice, yogurt, thyme leaves, and fresh chili peppers.