Algerian Mixed Bean And Lentil Soup With Chermoula Sauce (Vegan)

“I had the pleasure of taking a cooking class in Seattle yesterday where I enjoyed a demonstration of 5 new delicious vegetarian dishes.   Our instructor, Chef Sureyya Gokeri is from Turkey and boy did I love her style!  She was ambitious, joyful and honest and made everyone feel like they could cook, even if they burned toast.  What I loved the most about the class was her many references back to the fact that you never have to follow the instructions exact.  She would often throw in a little of this or extra of that just because she wanted to…. or because “following instructions isn’t in her Turkish blood”.  It reminded me that to be a great chef, you sometimes just need to listen to your instinct. It also reinforced that cooking is all about self expression and it doesn’t have to be perfect according to what someone else feels “perfect” is.  This really struck a cord with me because lately, its been obvious that some of my meat-loving extended family really would prefer I cook dishes other than just vegetarian meals.   I have doubted my cooking skills and my resolve to only prepare what I desire to make… meatless, wholesome and delicious meals.  But this class reminded me to be true to myself.  My determination to eat vegetarian and only prepare vegetarian dishes for others is only stronger now.  It’s my way of showing what I believe in and how much I love to cook.  It’s an act of my love and self expression and others should be honored to take part in it, just as I am honored when someone takes the time to cook for me.

The class was called 30 Minute Vegetarian Mediterranean.  All the dishes were from the Mediterranean part of the Middle East and Africa.  This soup was my absolute favorite.  It is warm, soothing and very versatile for a range of tastes.  The Chermoula Sauce is a fun, spicy addition that can take this dish into a whole new world.  I highly recommend you make it.  If you have leftovers, you can add to other soups, rice or pasta dishes and it does wonders for presentation with its bright green spike of color.  You can add extra jalapenos if you like it really spicy or as Chef Sureyya reminded us, make it more spicy if you have 8 guests and only enough soup for 6 people!”

-Adapted from Chef Sureyya Gokeri


For the Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped celery root (about 1/2 celery root
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, chopped (about 1/2 fennel bulb)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans (or 1 can drained and rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked red pinto beans (or 1 can drained and rinsed)
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • chermoula sauce (optional – recipe below)
  • pita chips for garnish (optional)

For the Charmoula Sauce 

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers (or more if you’re adventurous!)
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste


For the Soup

  1. Heat oil in 4 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Add celery root, fennel and ginger.  Cook for 5 minutes then add the onion.  Stir from time to time and saute for another 7-10 minutes or until veggies are mostly tender and onion is translucent.
  2. Add the ground ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and garlic.  Let them infuse their flavor and become fragrant for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes in their juices, broth, lentils, bay leaves, sugar, salt, pepper and both beans.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes checking and stirring frequently (if you are not using a heavy pot, watch the bottom as lentils can burn easily).   When the red lentils have mostly disintegrated and veggies are all tender remove from heat (See my footnotes for varied cooking times and blending alternatives).  Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed.
  4. Garnish with extra cilantro, chermoula sauce and broken pita chips.
For the Chermoula Sauce
  1. In a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, place cumin seeds and dry roast.  Watch so they do not burn and stir often.  Cooking time will depend on your pan and heat but when they are nice and fragrant and lightly toasted, remove from heat and let cool.  Place in a mortar and pestle and lightly grind.
  2. In a food processor, place cumin seeds, olive oil, garlic, jalapeno, zest and juice of lemon.  Process until combined and pureed.  Add the cilantro and process adding a bit more olive oil if needed.  Taste for salt and add as needed.  You can add more jalapeno or lemon if you like.


If you want less texture or a more pureed consistency, you can stick an immersion blender into the soup when it is finished and blend about half of it, leaving some texture and bean whole.  Also, if you want a more soupy finish, feel free to add more broth.  I tend to add an extra cup or so.

I use a quality, heavy bottomed French oven for my soups and I found that I like to let this one simmer for longer than necessary.  I turn it on low and let it cook for 1 1/2 hours or so.  The soup pureed into the consistency you see in the photos here.  You don’t have to do it, but you can’t overcook this soup.  The longer it simmers, the more delicious it gets.

I often throw in a little extra cinnamon and a dash more of turmeric.  Be careful though! It can get out of hand really quickly!

My favorite quote from Chef Sureyya was: “If you have 8 guests but you only made enough soup for 6, what do you do?  Answer: You make your soup VERY spicy!”  And yes, this charmoula can really spice it up.  Personally, I am torn because this soup is SO delicious on its own (especially the next day when the flavors have really melded).  However, the charmoula is a fun addition and really adds flavor and spice to the dish.

Chermoula is a common sauce or dip used in many parts of the Mediterranean part of the Middle East.  It’s a great addition to soups, rice, pasta and other vegetarian dishes.  Feel free to make extra as it should store in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 days safely.

Algerian mixed bean and lentil soup

Algerian mixed bean and lentil soup-overview-1

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Beans & Lentils, Soup, Vegan


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20 Comments on “Algerian Mixed Bean And Lentil Soup With Chermoula Sauce (Vegan)”

  1. February 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    That sounds great! Where did you take the cooking class? I always like to take cooking classes from instructors who teach cuisines that I don’t know at all, because I learn so many things. Like this soup! I don’t know the first thing about Turkish cuisine but I can tell that it’s delicious.

    • February 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      I took it at a store called Dish It Up in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle. She also teaches at other locations but I have taken several classes at that store and I love it because everyone sits around one HUGE kitchen island while watching the chef. I totally agree on learning new ethnic dishes. It really adds to your cooking abilities!

      • February 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

        I have never taken a class there but I just looked at the schedule and it looks great! Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. February 27, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    Do you have any recommendations for local classes? It’s great to find a fellow Seattle-ite!

  3. February 28, 2012 at 7:53 am #


    thanks for sharing… I never would have thought to combined these flavours.


  4. February 28, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    sorry my O key is sticking!

    • February 28, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      I knew what you meant- 🙂 That’s what I love about trying other ethnic foods. You find a whole new world of flavor!

  5. Kinenchen
    February 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    This looks awesome! I must bookmark and see if the boyfriend wants to make it with me. 🙂 Otherwise I’ll have to have it by myself. 😀

    • February 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      Oh, its a yummy dish to share with two! I hope you BF will make it with you. It’s a nice spicy date-dish. 🙂

  6. February 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Can’t wait to try this! Sounds fabulous and well off the beaten path. Also anxious to try your quinoa recipes. Love your site!

    • February 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      Laura, Yes, I loved this recipe because the flavors were not the run of the mill, everyday flavor you often find in soups. And I hope you enjoy the quinoa recipes, too. My favorite go to is the Vegetable Quinoa as its quick and you can use whatever veggies you have on hand. It also stores great in the fridge and is a good quick snack you can eat cold. I highly recommend you use the cumin in it. It really gives it a nice flavor. And thank you for the compliments! It made my night!

      Your site looks like a lot of fun and I am looking forward to browsing the recipes. I noticed you mentioned something about a dish making you feel like running a marathon… do you run? I run several 1/2 marathons every year and my first full is scheduled this October.

  7. March 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Thanks! Congrats on your upcoming full!! That’s great! I LOVE to run, but it’s been awhile since I’ve trained for any distance. I currently can’t stop doing yoga long enough to make any time to train! 😉 But I actually just talked with a friend yesterday about training together for a mini in the fall…and I think you have inspired me to commit to it!!

  8. March 2, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I love the sound of this soup, the fennel I’m sure is lovely in it. I’ve made chermoula before but it wasn’t green, it was a spice mix, I’m excited to try this version! I was just going to make my usual minestrone for lunch today, now I’m wondering if I can get some fennel any where, thanks for the inspiration!!

  9. Jerry
    April 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I attended this same class and loved it! I made it again tonight and was just crusing the web to see how others make a charmula sauce and stumbled upon your site. Great looking site and recipes! – And I’m sticking with the charmula recipe here as my favorite.

    • April 4, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      Oh, that’s wonderful you were in that class too! I had a great time and I loved her style! It’s funny, I just made this soup again yesterday and I have to agree… I haven’t found a better chermoula sauce. I don’t even measure it anymore. Just those basic ingredients, all in a processor and you’ve go it. Hey, Did you hear that Dish It Up just closed! I am so bummed!

  10. Jerry
    April 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Dish It Up was not on my radar as I only starting taking responsibility for my food & life a year ago. Men (at least my ‘older’ age) tend to have their head in the sand while preoccupied with ‘bringing home the bacon.’ Now in retirement and 40 pounds lighter, I don’t miss the bacon or that role model. In addition to the various Indian cooks at classes, I’ve been able to gain several Italian vegetarian recipes from Iole Aguero who teaches there, and I’d recommend her to you. P.S. Your food pictures look wonderful.

    • April 10, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Jerry, Congrats on your changes to eat better and take care of yourself! I love it when people take control of their life and take steps to being healthier… it’s never too late! Thanks for the recommendation to Lole Aguero. I’ll look her up and see where else she teaches.T

  11. November 8, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    Sounds and looks very tasty 🙂

  12. April 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    This was awesome! Made the soup last night and had it this evening with the sauce. So glad you shared it on the blog. It is definitely REPEATABLE! Michelle (From Duvall, WA).

  13. April 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Michelle, thank you so much for letting me know you tried this. I am so glad you enjoyed it and felt is was repeatable. It’s all about making it your own. It’s great to have someone from the Puget Sound on my blog. I grew up in Woodinville so Duvall is well known and well loved by me. Thanks for the comment!

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