Tasty Vegetarian Eats

Spicy Harissa Tomato Soup

Spicy Harissa Tomato Soup

Middle Eastern inspired Tomato soup. During the winter months, I often am less drawn to salads for lunch, and more interested in something warm like quinoa bowls or soup. This is the ultimate soup to warm you to the bone. If you’re hoping for something a little creamier, but totally vegan, coconut milk is a great addition here as well.

Ironically, sometimes the best recipes are kitchen accidents. One day, we’re making our classic version of tomato soup, inspired by a Pinch of Yum blog recipe, and we run out of tomato paste. My husband calls out, “What should we do without the tomato paste?”, and I suggest, “How about harissa paste instead?”. And, the Spicy Harissa Tomato Soup is born.

Harissa is a great ingredient to have in the fridge. It’s a nice addition to roasted vegetables, as a condiment, as a spicy element to pasta, and the list could go on. With a pepper base, instead of the traditional tomato paste, harissa adds great heat and flavor to any dish. The amount of harissa that works for you here might vary, since heat tolerance is something that is so unique to each person.

One amazing thing out this soup, is that all the ingredients are likely things you have in the pantry. A carrot, an onion, a few cloves of garlic, vegetable stock or vegetable bouillon, a bay leaf and a can of whole tomatoes. I’ve used za’atar seasoning here, but dried thyme would work as well. So when you can’t think of what to have for lunch or dinner, you can whip this up in just over 30 minutes.

The heat from the harissa helps create heat from the inside out for a cold day or a winter’s night. Take it to the next level with a grilled cheese sandwich for the ultimate grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. (Shown here with a cheedar and apple grilled cheese!) Top with some fresh cilantro and coconut milk, and dig in.

Spicy Harissa Tomato Soup

Prep Time: 4 minutes

Cook Time: 36 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4-5 servings

Serving Size: 1 bowl of soup


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, whole and peeled
  • 3/4 Tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 Tbsp gluten free flour blend*
  • 1 28 oz can San Marzano style whole tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or 4 tsp vegetable bouillon and 4 cups water)
  • 1 tsp za'atar seasoning**
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Toppings
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Full-fat or light coconut milk, chilled and blended


  1. In a large saucepan, add oil and heat over medium to medium-low heat until oil starts to shimmer.
  2. Saute carrot, onion, and garlic for about 5 minutes until onion is starting to soften and has some color.
  3. Add harissa paste and flour, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and their liquid (crushing with your hands as you incorporate just to break up a bit), vegetable broth, za'atar, and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, and take out the bay leaf***.
  7. Puree in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender.
  8. To serve, top with fresh cilantro and a swirl of coconut milk.


*Or, 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour if not gluten-free. **Ok to substitute 1/2 tsp dried thyme. *** Don't sweat it if you forget to take out the bay leaf. This happens to me all the time!


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