Friday, April 29, 2005


Love cilantro? I do! This is a soup that comes from the Middle East, and apparently Muslims often break their fast with this during Ramadan. This is so incredibly flavourful, and healthy to boot. It's easy to make and the ingredients aren't hard to find.

1 each large bunch fresh cilantro and parsley
8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup brown or green lentils
1 can (19oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cans (19oz) tomatoes, chopped (I use 1 28oz can of diced)
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil (optional)

1. Chop 1/4 cup each of the cilantro and parsley and set aside. Take the rest and tie it together with some kitchen string and stick it in a large pot. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Discard herb bundle. Add lentils and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, spices. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Puree 3 cups of the soup. Return to the pot and heat through. Stir in the lemon juice, oil (if using), and reserved chopped herbs.

Notes to the readership:
- instead of tying the herbs together, I use a piece of cheesecloth and make a bundle out of it. It works really well and is much easier to handle when it comes time to discard it. Cheesecloth is super cheap, and has a few other uses in the kitchen, too.
- I have an immersion blender, so I just use it to puree at the end. I like this a bit smoother, but puree as much or as little as you'd like - but puree at least the 3 cups because this soup shouldn't be super chunky.
- I first had Harira in a Moroccan place in Old Quebec City and I was hooked! Theirs had a bit of pasta in it, but not very much. I'm sure there are many recipes for this soup.
- if you serve this with some kind of rice, you'll get a complete protein.
- I never add the olive oil in order to keep it fat free, and I've never missed it. Don't skip the lemon juice - and squeeze it fresh, eh? - you'll regret it; it adds such a bright flavour to this.


Isabella di Pesto said...


Another winner! We've had a dreary weekend here in Boston. Rain. Rain. And more Rain.

So my friends and I did what we love best. Cooked. I made the harira soup, and everyone raved!

You're absolutely correct about the lemon juice. It brightens this flavorful dish, and the spices are perfectly balanced. No one spice overwhelms the others.

I pureed it with my hand-held emulsifier and it came out beautifully.

Thanks again for a great recipe.

Wandering Coyote said...

Coincidentally, I made this for dinner tonight, too, as I had a lot of leftover cilantro and parsley from another meal earlier in the week. I accompanied it with a whole wheat baguette (bought by accident) and some cheddar cheese - excellent. This time, I added a few cloves of garlic and it actually improved it, in my opinion. It all made for a very hearty meal.

I'm so glad you liked it and that it worked out for you.

mia said...

Your blog is great! It's hard to find blogs with good content and people talking about culinary school these days! I have a secret culinary school blog if you want to come check it out!

Farid said...

I am Algerian born in France. I'm a culinary instructor. I have a recipe for harira on my blog.

Harira is a North African dish, not a Middle Eastern one. :-)


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