February 11, 2012

vegan harira, harira, moroccan soup, vegan soup, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

I wonder about the exact origins of this soup. Most references trace it back to Morocco. It has a long and auspicious history including being the traditional soup Muslims eat to break the fasting day during the holy month of Ramadan. Each time I rinse my lentils and pick out the rocks, I think of those that might have had to do the same centuries ago. I’m sure there were those that did the picking, and those that definitely did NOT do the picking enjoying instead their sunny balconies in their djellaba and balgha overlooking the waves of one of the greatest seas on earth. This soup is like the sun. It makes me think of the desert, of the Mediterranean, of history, of ceremony, and of nourishment when one needs it most.

3 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, diced

4 medium carrots, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsps ginger

2 tsps turmeric

2 tsps cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

3 tbsps tomato paste

2 cups stewed tomatoes

5 cups vegetable or bean stock

1 bay leaf

2 tsps sea salt


2 cups chickpeas

1 cup brown lentils

juice from 1/2 lemon

parsley, chopped

cilantro, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté for another 2 – 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add spices and sauté over low heat until fragrant but be careful not to burn them.

Add the tomato paste and stir until it’s blended well. Slowly add the stewed tomatoes and stock stirring constantly until you have a smooth consistency. Add bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Add chickpeas, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until chickpeas begin to soften. Add lentils and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes longer or until chickpeas and lentils are cooked through.

Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro and parsley (or serve with chopped herbs on the side). Adjust seasoning and serve.