It amazes me how many different flavors I was missing out on by just planning my meals around meat or chicken. Protein was always the star of the show and I was always trying to find something to serve it with or some new way to dress it up. Now I get to appreciate different cuisines and foods that I would have never even thought of eating and enjoying them! This Moroccan Harira soup is one of those dishes. Lynne Rosetto Kasper was featured on The Chew making this soup and the whole crew raved about it. I thought it sounded interesting but it was one of those things that you just log in the back of your mind. I wasn't planning on looking up the recipe or trying it any time soon.
Then over the weekend my husband and I had the most delicious vegan brunch at Busboys and Poets in DC. I have never enjoyed a meatless meal at a restaurant that much. We started our meal with the Harira and it hit the spot. Immediately my husband said we had to make it at home so I did a search for some recipes and came across the one from The Chew.
The recipe doesn't ask for it but I added a can of chickpeas to the soup during the last 20-25 minutes of cooking. The result was warm, hearty and satisfying. Not exactly like the one at the restaurant but just as delicious. Lynne Rosetto Kasper suggests you serve this soup with lemon wedges, dried fruit, spices and even little pieces of pastry like baklava on the side so everyone can top their soup the way they want. This is not your typical lentil soup and you're going to love it!
Moroccan Harira Red Lentil Soup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 small carrot (minced)
1/3 cup tightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley stems and leaves (chopped)
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro stems and leaves (chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 large garlic cloves (minced)
2-inch piece fresh ginger (minced -- about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cup dried red lentils
2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes and their liquid (pureed)
8 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 lemons (each cut into 6 wedges)
12 or more dried figs (halved)
12 or more dates
3 tablespoon cumin (freshly ground if possible)
3 tablespoon ground hot chile (Aleppo if possible)
12 small phyllo pastries of honey and nuts like baklava
2 tablespoon tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
Add olive oil to coat the bottom of a 6-quart pot and set it over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, parsley, cilantro, and a little salt and sauté for 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir in the pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in the lentils, paprika, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the lentils have dissolved and the soup tastes rich and good. Add salt and pepper to taste. During the last 20-25 minutes of cooking, add the garbanzo beans. If the soup is too thick add a little water.
To serve the soup, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Set out small plates for each diner with the accompaniments – lemon wedges, about 2 figs and 2 dates each, a little of the ground cumin and chile, and bite-sized pieces of pastry.