North African Sundried Tomato Soup With Couscous and Olives
Recipe type: Soup
Yield: Serves 4-6
  • For the soup:
  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, or other neutral oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 large pinches of kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or ginger juice
  • 2 large red bell peppers seeded and chopped
  • 5-6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup / 100g chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 15-ounce can) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • For the couscous topping:
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. In a 6-quart dutch oven or small stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened and are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, harissa, and ginger (if using ginger juice, wait to add with the stock); cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes; if the mixture becomes dry, add a bit of the broth. Add 5 cups of the broth, the canned tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling, turn off the heat, add the couscous, cover with a lid, and let sit for 10 minutes. If the couscous hasn't absorbed all of the water at this point, or isn't completely cooked through, cover and let steam for a couple more minutes.
  3. Once the couscous is cooked through, fluff with a fork, and transfer it to a small mixing bowl. Stir in the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, olives, and parsley.
  4. Carefully transfer the soup to a blender, or use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Thin with the extra stock, if desired.
  5. Return the soup to the pot, add the chickpeas, and warm through. Season to taste with salt (if needed).
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and top with the couscous.
When it comes to black olives, I strongly-prefer the soft, prune-like, oil-cured variety to the more-common brined type, which tend to be bland and spongy. The Whole Foods I shop at stocks them in its olive bar. If you can't find them, I'd recommend kalamata olives over brined black olives.

Stored separately, leftover soup and couscous keep well in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container (the parsley will wilt slightly, but not too much). While I don't recommend freezing leftover couscous, once completely cooled, leftover soup can be portioned out and frozen for up to 6 months.
Recipe by A Modest Feast at