This soup is adapted from the The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie cookbook by Si King and Dave Myers, found here:

The harissa paste recipe is adapted from the recipe by The Minimalist Baker, found here:

Quick to prepare, tasty and nutritious.  Harissa brings warm spiciness to any meal, and you can adapt the amount you want to add dependent on the amount of heat you like. I added diced butternut squash for an extra antioxidant boost!

Prep 10 minutes.  Cook 30 minutes


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp fine chopped coriander stems

1-2 tbsp harissa paste (see below – can be shop bought)

200g red lentils, rinsed

1 litre vegetable stock

400g can of tomatoes

Squeeze of lemon

1/2 tsp coconut sugar (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper


Zest of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Coriander leaves, finely chopped

HOMEMADE HARISSA PASTE: Toast the dry spices in a dry frying pan until aromatic then put all ingredients in a blender and blend.  Keep extra in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for longer.  You may need to add a little water to aid with blending.

  • 10 dried birdseye chillis 
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes (optional – I used dried ones but you can use ones from a jar).
  • 1 tbsp dulse (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook it over a gentle heat until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the coriander stems and the harissa paste.
  2. Add the lentils and stir until they are coated with the paste, then pour over the stock and season with salt and pepper.  
  3. Bring the stock to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes (and coconut sugar if adding)  and simmer for another 10 minutes. 
  4. Stir and check the consistency of the soup – add a splash more water if it seems too thick.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a squeeze of lemon to taste.
  5. To make the gremolata, finely chop the lemon zest, garlic and coriander together until well combined.
  6. Blend the soup if you want it smooth – the lentils will have broken down enough to thicken it, but there will still be some texture from the onions and tomatoes.  Serve with the gremolata spooned over the top.

Tip:  Add roasted or pureed butternut squash or sweet potato to the soup for enriched flavour and nutrition.