New Year, Healthier You Recipe #2: Lamb, Harissa & White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt

While our first recipe in this week of New Year’s healthiness was the perfect snack to get you through your January indulgence withdrawals, this recipe for Lamb, Harissa & White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt is the perfect healthy meal.


Inspired by a vegetarian recipe I recently saw in Food & Wine Magazine that takes over 8 hours to make, I’ve reduced this recipe to under 2 hours (including prep!) without sacrificing one iota of flavor. I also glammed it up by adding some ground, grass-fed Australian lamb. Not baaaaaad, if you ask me. Apologies for the lamb humor.

And while you could omit the lamb, I must say the succulent meat melds deliciously well with the flavors of the spicy harissa, creamy white beans and sweet Hungarian paprika. While I originally intended to freeze some of the soup for later consumption, the Hubs had other plans. It was so delicious it disappeared from my kitchen in record time!


In addition to its fabulous flavor, this dish also contains some super trendy, healthy ingredients including (1) turmeric, (2) savory yogurt and (3) harissa.

Native to southern Asia, turmeric has been used in both culinary and medicinal applications for thousands of years. With its earthy flavor and bright orange-yellow hue, it is a key ingredient in Indian, Iranian and Pakistani cuisine and also gives curries their hallmark golden hue. The health benefits of turmeric stem from an active compound called curcumin which is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is especially beneficial for cardiovascular health, join pain and diabetes.

Savory yogurt has also enjoyed a recent surge of popularity. This unsweetened yogurt offers the same nutritional benefits (i.e. calcium and protein) without the additional calories and sugars of fruit yogurts. Savory yogurts are also perfect for healthy add-ons such as chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and Kalamata olives or drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with flaky sea salt. Unsweetened yogurt can also be used in place of sour cream…imagine the possibilities! As with many dairy products lately, whole fat varieties are being recommended over slimmed down versions (i.e. non-fat, reduced fat) which don’t have as much staying power.


Move over sriracha, harissa is the new spicy condiment in town! This North African hot chili pepper paste is essentially a blend of chili pepper, olive oil and garlic commonly used in Tunisian and Moroccan cuisine. It can also include coriander, cumin, mint and a variety of other ingredients. Use any harissa you have left over from this recipe to flavor dishes ranging from fried eggs to roasted chicken for a delightful kick of heat. It’s metabolic boosting properties have even been touted by Dr. Oz! Also, for those of you doing the Paleo thang, harissa is “Paleo-approved” so feel free to get your spice on.

Since Old World wines are especially waistline friendly and on our agenda for January, we enjoyed a delightful cru Beaujolais from Maison Louis Jadot with the Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup. The 2011 Chateau des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent, made from the Gamay grape, had lovely notes of blackberry, plum, minerals and cassis with supple tannins and a delightful finish.

Since this dish is somewhat spicy, a light, fruity wine with friendly tannins is the best pairing. Bold tannins and hot, spicy foods tend to clash on the palate, creating a very unpleasant flavor situation. Another lighter red like Pinot Noir would also be a wonderful choice.


I hope you enjoy this healthy and delicious recipe for Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt as much as we do! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below. Stay tuned for more healthy, delicious goodness coming this week.

Bon appétit,


"Lamb, Harissa & White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt"
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4-6
Pair this delicious dish with a light, fruity red wine such as a cru Beaujolais or Pinot Noir
  • 1½ lbs. ground lamb
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 3 Tablespoons spicy harissa, plus more for serving
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 4 cans white beans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 thyme sprigs plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-inch strip of lemon zest plus 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1½ cups full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup roughly chopped, flat leaf, Italian parsley
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large pot, heat 2 Tablespoons of the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ground lamb to the pot and saute until lamb is browned.
  2. Stir in ¼ cup of the harissa and the tomato paste and cook, stirring until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in the cumin and paprika, then add 3 cups of water and bring soup to a simmer, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, lemon zest and juice to the pot, stir well and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. While the soup simmers, in a small, non-stick skillet, melt the remaining Tablespoon of butter. Add the ground turmeric and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly until it dissolves, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the Greek yogurt until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
  4. To the simmering soup, add the drained, rinsed white beans to the pot and heat through, about 10 minutes. Just before serving, add the chopped thyme and parsley and remaining 3 Tablespoons of harissa. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the soup with turmeric yogurt and extra harissa on the side.


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