Late Summer Harvest Soup with Harissa

This soup is fragrant with spices and sweet and sour (from the honey and tomatillos).

-Soak 1½ cups lentils for 4-8 hours. Drain and rinse.

-Chop up 1 small onion.

-Saute the onions in 2 TBS butter and a big pinch of salt until nicely browned, about 10 minutes.

-Deglaze the pan with 3 TBS white wine, sherry or broth.

-Stir in 4 cloves of chopped garlic.

-Heat a small heavy frying pan (cast iron works best) to medium hot.

-Throw in dried ½ tsp of cumin seed, ½ tsp of fennel seed, ½ tsp coriander seed, ¼ tsp celery seed and shake vigorously for a couple minutes until they start to 'just pop' and become fragrant.

-Immediately grind the spices in a mortal and pestle, a blender or a coffee grinder.

-Add the ground spices to the pan with the onions in it, along with ½ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp turmeric or ¼ tsp curry powder.

-Add 1 more TBS butter and another pinch of salt, and let the onions and spices cook for a few minutes.

-Peel 1 bunch carrots. Chop each carrot into half the long way and then chop into 4ths and then into small chunks.

-Chop up 2 fennel bulbs into small pieces.

-Add to the onions and cook for 5 minutes.

-Take the skins off of 1 pound of tomatillos then wash them.

-Cut the tomatillos into smallish pieces then add to the carrots along with 2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers (be careful when chopping peppers).

-Cook for a few minutes then add 4 cups broth or water, 2 TBS honey and the drained lentilsand bring to a boil.

-Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

-Taste for salt and add some freshly ground black pepper.

-Serve with a dollop of yogurt and some Harissa if desired.

Try rubbing this fiery Tunisian chile paste on meats or fish before searing or grilling, or stir a small spoonful into some mayonnaise for a sandwich spread with a kick. Also mix a dollop into butter and toss with steamed veggies or couscous. The hotter the chiles, the hotter the harissa, so experiment and use sparingly to taste.

-Heat a heavy small fry pan (cast iron works best) to medium hot.

-Throw in dried 1 TBS cumin seeds2 TBS coriander seeds and 1 tsp caraway seeds and shake vigorously for a couple minutes until they start to 'just pop' and become fragrant.

-Immediately get out of hot pan into a pestle/blender/coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.

-Now in the empty hot dry ‘seed’ pan, throw in 4 smoked chile peppers, such as ancho or chipotle and 8 dried red chile peppers, such as New Mexico or cascabel.

-Shake/toss for a 1-2 minutes until they become fragrant.

-Immediately get them out the hot pan and also grind to a fine powder.

-Combine ground seeds and chiles with 1 whole head of finely minced fresh garlic½ cup olive oil and ½ tsp salt.

-Store in refrigerator in tightly sealed glass jar.