Monday, February 6, 2012

Soup Series 1: Harira for Haters

It’s been a long time since I cooked anything interesting! My excuse? It’s late winter/early spring. And I hate it!

I hate how there isn’t anything interesting in the grocery store. Winter foods have begun to bore me and spring things haven’t arrived yet. I hate how it’s dark in the morning. Usually I hate how cold and snowy it is, but this year I hate what the drought and confusing temperatures must be doing to my flowers. My poor flowers! I hate it when winter kills my flowers.

Buh, buh, buh. All this hating and whining can work up a person’s appetite. I dug a couple of soup recipes out of the vaults, and I’ll show them to you one blog post at a time. Soup Series 1 is harira, a cheerfully yellow Moroccan dish of legumes, rice, vegetables, and meat.

As a young professional, I experimented with vegetarianism as a way to stretch my grocery dollars. I kicked the meat out of many a recipe—including this one, which originally called for lamb and chicken giblets to enrich the broth. I’m sure they would be delicious, but I’ve never made this dish with them and I’ve never missed them. You try it and see what you think!

Harira Sans Animals
I believe the original recipe came from Taste of Morocco by Robert Carrier.

1 large yellow onion, minced
1 cup lentils
1 cup chickpeas
1 t turmeric
½ t cinnamon
½ t ground black pepper
¼ t ground ginger
¼ t sweet paprika
1 pinch saffron
½ c rice
1 T dry yeast
1 fistful cilantro, chopped (minus stems)
1 fistful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (minus stems)
8 canned whole tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 t butter
Salt to taste
Lemon wedges

Soak the lentils and chickpeas overnight in 6 cups of water.

The next day, dump the lentils, chickpeas, and water in a pot and bring them to a boil. Skim off the foam. Dump in the onion and spices, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the legumes are tender, about 2 hours.

Cook the rice in about a cup more water than the package directions call for. Be careful not to overcook it. Drain off the extra water, reserving it. Plop the rice into the soup.

Stir the yeast into the reserved rice water. Then add the herbs, the tomato, and the butter. Bring the mix to a simmer and cook it for a few minutes. Add it to the soup. Add salt to taste.

Serve the harira with a lemon wedge so your diners can squeeze it onto their bowl. Yum!