Berber Soup


Once upon a time, I spent three months in North Africa. At one point, we took three different kinds of transportation (including paying some random locals to put a bench in the back of their motorcycle truck so they could drive us up a mountain) to get to a mountain town. We then trecked from there through the mountains to a Berber village, where we stayed for a week. It was wonderful.


Something I learned from the Berbers is that they see life as a circle. Right now you may be up, so you share with your neighbors as if it is your obligation to give them everything you have. Later you might be down, and they will do the same for you.

You see this in the way that they immediately, without hesitation, insist that anyone they meet come into their home, even a big group of us strangers, and they give you all of the best food they have until you cannot begin to eat another bite.


You see it in how all of the men in the entire village go to one man’s orchard to help him harvest his apples one day. The next day, they go to another man’s field and do the same, until all of the apples are harvested. They probably don’t pay anyone for their labor. They just share in the harvest, and everyone has enough.

You see it in how the entire village show affection for one another and help each other care for and raise their children.


The Bible portrays the early church living in a similar way when it says, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:32-35).


You might say that the Berbers are living this out better than the western church today, in many instances.

This is how I desire to live. A life characterized by radical generosity, hospitality and love, lived in close community, as we were created to live.

Anyway, while we were there, we helped our hosts make this fantastic soup that we were all crazy about, and this is the recipe! I put a few twists on it, like the chick peas and harissa oil are mine, and they didn’t put any garlic in it, I added that because everything is better with garlic. But other than those things, this is an authentic Berber recipe, straight out of a village in the Atlas mountains!


So, I can’t really take credit for this recipe, it is an authentic Berber veggie soup, straight out of the Atlas mountains, and it is so, so good AND healthy AND filling! It’s got a million veggies in it, and all of those wonderful North African spices! Oh, and it’s vegan! You’ll love it.

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Berber Soup with Crispy Za’atar Chickpeas and Harissa Oil

  • Author: hungryhungryhibma
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1215 servings 1x


A comforting, autumn-y veggie soup with North African spices. An authentic Berber recipe (with a couple of my own touches). Topped with Za’atar seasoned crispy chick peas and a drizzle of harissa oil.



For the Soup:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 6 carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 kilo butternut squash (about half of a medium-sized one)
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 parsnips, peeled
  • 1 tomato
  • 8 sprigs cilantro
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teapoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Za’atar Chickpeas:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Harissa Oil:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons harissa


To make the soup, chop all the veggies.

Heat the oil in a large stock pot. Add the veggies and spices and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until onions soften. Add the garlic, and cook one additional minute.

Pour in enough water to cover the veggies. Add the cilantro.

Cover, and let simmer for one hour.

Blend soup with a blender until smooth.

To make the chickpeas, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Combine all ingredients and spread on a baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until chickpeas are crispy.

To make the harissa oil, stir together the oil and harissa. Allow mixture to sit at least 1/2 hour to meld before serving.

Serve soup topped with chickpeas and a drizzle of harissa oil! Enjoy!



Note, this soup can be frozen! When it thaws, it might be a strange texture, but just run it through a blender again, and it will be good as new!

Keywords: soup, veggies, berber, north african, fall, autumn, vegan, za’atar, chickpeas, harissa

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