Spicy Tomato Soup with Harissa and Farro

Spicy Tomato Soup with Harissa and Farro

Will Budiaman


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
  • leek, white part only, halved and sliced thinly
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 quart  water
  • 10  black peppercorns
  • dried bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs  flat-leaf parsley
  • sprigs thyme

For the harissa

  • red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon  fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon  cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons  crushed red pepper flakes
  • white or yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 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
  •   One 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  •   Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon  chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

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. If you don't have access to farro, pearled barley would make a decent substitute.

See all farro recipes.


For the vegetable stock

In a 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, mushroom, leek, and garlic and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the water and remaining ingredients, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer.

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

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

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. Add the onion and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and chop the bell pepper.

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

Soak the farro in a bowl of cold water for about 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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.


*Note: For a slightly hotter harissa, omit the fresh tomatoes.

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