Citizens, the ancient and magnificent kingdom of Morocco is home to some of the most complex and delicious cuisine on the planet! I have several Moroccan friends and someday I hope to visit this storied land of antiquity and legend! Not to mention sampling the unmatched cuisine there – firsthand and in-situ.
Harira (Arabic: الحريرة al-ḥarīra, Berber: ⴰⵣⴽⵉⴼ azkif) is a traditional soup of the Maghreb region, consumed in both Morocco and western Algeria.
It is popular as a starter but is also eaten on its own as a light snack. There are many variations and it is mostly served during Ramadan, although it can be made throughout the year.
Harira’s base-recipe is composed of the following ingredients, and may vary depending on regions:
Tadouira – a thickening mixture made from flour and water and sometimes canned tomato paste, which is added at the end of the harira cooking process
tomatoes and tomato concentrate
herbs (celery, parsley and coriander)
spices (mainly saffron, ginger, and pepper)
small amount of meat: (beef, lamb or chicken)
a spoon or two of olive oil.
Lemon juice can also be added at serving time as well as salt and turmeric.
It is usually served with hard-boiled eggs sprinkled with salt and cumin, dates and other favorite dried fruits like figs, traditional honey sweets and other home-made special breads or crepes.
Citizens, my version of this recipe is resolutely traditional, but with my own secret spice blend (secret no more!) including my own ras-el-hanout spice blend. I am confident you will find this soup to be both delicious and exotic!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
The Hirshon Moroccan Chickpea & Lentil Soup – ⴰⵣⴽⵉⴼ or الحريرة
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound lamb, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons freshly-ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon freshly-ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ras-el-hanout (strongly preferred) or use Ceylon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon finely-ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon finely-ground caraway seed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon
- 2 teaspoons harissa or to taste
- 8 cups beef or lamb broth
- 3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight then rinsed and drained (or 1 15 ounce can, drained)
- 3/4 cup dried French Le Puy lentils (they hold their shape and texture better than regular brown lentils)
- 1/4 cup broken up vermicelli pasta, or try orzo pasta or long-grain rice
- 1/3 cup sliced Green Olives, drained and sliced
- 1/3 cup sliced Black Olives, drained and sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh celery leaves
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Heat the oil in a pot over medium high heat and brown the lamb. Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside. (Leave the browned bits in the pot, those are going to give the harira tremendous flavor.)
- Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent and they turn golden, 6-8 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, preserved lemon and harissa and let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Return the meat to the pot with the chickpeas and lentils. Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for one hour. Add the pasta (or orzo or rice), cover and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Stir in the olives, cilantro and parsley and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and more harissa if you prefer it spicier.
- Garnish with the chopped fresh herbs.
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