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Active time
45 minutes
Total time
45 minutes
6 servings

For the Soup:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 ½ cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)

1 ½ cups chopped celery (½-inch pieces; about 3 stalks),

1 ½ cups chopped red bell pepper (½-inch chunks; about 1 bell pepper)

1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 cups water, or cooking liquid from the lentils topped off with water

1 cup cracked freekeh

1 ½ cups cooked French lentils, or 1 (15-ounce) can, rinsed and drained

For the shrimp:

1 to 2 tablespoons harissa paste 

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 pound extra-large shrimp, shell-on or peeled and deveined

To finish:

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more as needed

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat- leaf parsley

3 tablespoons finely chopped firm dates, preferably Deglet Noor

1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges, for serving

  1. To make the soup, heat a large Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in the olive oil and wait until it shimmers. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, sage, thyme, and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the broth, water, freekeh, and the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the freekeh is tender with a slight chewiness, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cooked lentils.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp: Place a rack about 4 inches from the broiler and heat on high for about 5 minutes. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil or coat with cooking spray.
  4. Combine 1 tablespoon harissa paste (more if you like it spicy), the olive oil, turmeric, Aleppo pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Place the shrimp in a medium bowl, gently rub in the harissa mixture, and allow to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soup is almost done. Using paper towels, gently pat dry the shrimp and place on the baking sheet.
  5. Broil until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping them once in between with a metal spatula.
  6. To finish, remove the soup from the heat and add the pepper and the lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with the 1⁄4 cup parsley.
  7. Divide between six wide shallow bowls and place 4 to 5 shrimp on top of each. Sprinkle each with ½ tablespoon of the dates, a bit of the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and serve at once, with lemon wedges on the side.

Notes:  You can cook the lentils while you prep your ingredients. Harissa is a traditional Tunisian chile paste infused with spices such as garlic and coriander. Look for it in well-stocked supermarkets or Middle Eastern stores.

Gluten free: Millet, buckwheat, and quinoa can be substituted to make this gluten-free. If you like, toast them first in the empty saucepan. Immediately transfer to a medium bowl, and set aside until you’re ready to cook the grains. These grains might be done a little faster than freekeh.

Vegetarian: Drain a 14-ounce block of tofu and cut it into 12 triangles: first cut crosswise into 6 slices and then cut each slice in half into a triangle. Marinate like the shrimp and broil until puffed and nicely browned, about 10 minutes total, flipping once. Serve 2 triangles per person.

Make Ahead: The soup, prior to preparing the shrimp, can be made up to 2 days ahead. Allow to cool to room temperature; chill, covered. Add a little more water or broth to your liking and reheat over medium heat to a gentle simmer before fixing the shrimp.

Reprinted with permission from Simply Ancient Grains by Oldways Whole Grains Council Culinary Advisor Maria Speck, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2015 by Erin Kunkel.


Calories: 320
Total Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Sodium: 610mg
Carbohydrate: 39g
Fiber: 9g
Total Sugar: 7g (Added Sugar: 0g)
Protein: 25g

Yield: 6 servings

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