HARIRA (Moroccan chick pea and lentil soup with lamb, for six)


In Morocco, harira usually breaks the fast after sundown during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Crusty bread, hard-boiled eggs, sweet dates and pastries sticky with honey are the usual accompaniments.

1-1/2 cups dried chick peas

8 cups water

one 35 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound boneless lean shoulder of lamb, cut into ½ inch dice (or leftover leg of lamb, cubed)

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 small celery rib (including leaves), finely chopped

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 cups vegetable broth (preferably organic) or chicken broth

1 cup red lentils

2 ounces dried capellini, broken into 1 inch pieces, or fine egg noodles (3/4 cup)

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

lemon wedges to accompany

1. Prepare chick peas. Soak chick peas in water to cover by 2 inches 8 to 12 hours. Drain chick peas and rinse well. Transfer to a large saucepan and add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Cool chick peas and drain, reserving the cooking liquid. You should have about 2-1/2 cups liquid (if not, add more water).

2. Coarsely puree the tomatoes in a food processor.

3. Brown the lamb lightly in a 4 quart heavy pot in the butter, then add the onion and celery and saute over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, 1/3 cup cilantro, chick peas with reserved liquid, vegetable broth and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

4. Stir in the pasta and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley, remaining 1/3 cup cilantro and salt to taste.

adapted from David Tanis, A Platter of Figs

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