This beautiful, bold red pepper carrot soup gets a ton of flavor from a tablespoon of harissa, and is extra satisfying on a chilly fall evening with the inspired addition of a couscous swirl. I made it on a weeknight in under an hour.
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How do you feel about soup for dinner? Some people don’t consider soup to be a full meal in itself. I beg to differ! With some bread, tortilla chips, crackers, or other carbs on the side for dunking, soup is a comforting, satisfying, soul-nourishing, not to mention healthy, supper.
Still not convinced? What if we put the starch IN the soup. Then it’s basically a bowl of pasta – albeit a very saucy one. That is basically what Deb of Smitten Kitchen did with this red pepper carrot soup with a couscous swirl. I think it’s kind of genius, but then I’m an easy sell when it comes to soup, if you couldn’t tell! As a bonus, leftovers make easy work lunches. I usually put a soup on the menu at least once a week for just that purpose.
What is harissa?
This soup gets a ton of complex flavor from the addition of harissa – a North African chile and spice paste. It’s generally sold prepared in a tube. If you can’t find it in the grocery store, you can get it easily here. It’s a spicy condiment, but with only a tablespoon in the recipe, the overall effect is pretty mellow. Feel free to add more to taste!
This recipe is from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which I’ve had for all of a week and has already monopolized my menu for the foreseeable future. I loved the first book, but this one is packed with easy weeknight inspiration, and is right up my alley. I highly recommend it. If you don’t already follow Deb on her blog, I recommend that too.
Red Pepper Carrot Soup with Couscous
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 6 large red bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 4-5 large carrots (about 1 lb), thinly sliced or chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon prepared harissa
- handful of chopped parsley
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup dried fine couscous
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 4-5 minutes. Add bell peppers and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Pour in the stock and add the cumin, paprika and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until vegetables are very tender.
- While the vegetables are simmering, prepare the couscous. In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, add couscous, cover and set aside until the soup is ready (at least 5-10 minutes).
- When the vegetables are tender, purée the soup in the pot with an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender. Stir in the harissa and add salt to taste.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Fluff couscous with a fork and swirl into the soup.