I made this gorgeous soup after seeing Heidi Swanson's recipe for Spicy Chickpea and Bulgur Soup. You really do want to have harissa on hand here. I also used some za'atar but that's certainly not necessary.
This soup received rave reviews from several guests with very diverse palates. The swirled feta takes it over the top and is well worth the bit of extra effort.
Ingredients for Soup
2 yellow onions
1 head garlic
1 anaheim chile pepper
2 red bell peppers
Large handful of kale
1 small butternut squash
4 yellow potatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
32 fl. oz. veggie broth
2 T harissa
Za'atar if already in your cupboard
Ingredients for Swirled Feta
Whole fat, plain greek yogurt
1/2 block feta
Several squeezes of lemon
Za'atar (again, if already in your cupboard)
Cover the bottom of your soup pot with a generous pour of olive oil and set on medium heat. At this point, I recommend also puncturing the skin on your butternut squash and microwaving it to soften. I also do this with the potatoes if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to wait for them to cook through all the way in the soup.
Dice your onions, chile pepper, and red bell peppers and add to the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and za'atar if using. While those soften, mince or crush your entire head of garlic. If you have one, place garlic in a mortar & pestle along with a big squeeze or two of lemon, two to three tablespoons harissa (depending on how hot your harissa is), and another pour of olive oil. Crush to form a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, just stir this all together and be sure to really mince/crush your garlic.
Add your harissa paste to the soup pot and toss well with onions and peppers. When onions are translucent, add the vegetable broth.
While broth simmers with the onions, peppers, and harissa paste, pull out your softened butternut squash and softened potatoes. Chop and add to soup. Rinse your squash seeds and roast them like this if you'd like an extra soup topping.
Rinse your canned chickpeas and add to soup along with fire roasted tomatoes. As a last step, rinse and de-rib your kale, then toss in a few handfuls of that as well.
Finally, while the soup simmers, you can whip up this amazing swirl of feta, yogurt, and fresh herbs to top each bowl with. Put 1/2 block of feta into your food processor along with a big handful fresh parsley, some squeezes of your lemon, salt, pepper, and za'atar or more harissa if you want. Process. Depending on how wet your feta is, you may want to add a small bit of olive oil, too. After the first process, add tablespoons of plain whole greek yogurt until you have a nice creamy consistency. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop your parsley and mix by hand.
Taste and continue to season the soup as you like - I think I poured in a bit of the wine I was drinking at one point. Serve with a generous dollop of the feta cream on top and crusty bread on the side.
Food Allergies and Ethics: Vegetarian, vegan if you skip the swirled feta. Gluten free, but please check your veggie broth. I use Pacific brand.