Monday, November 5, 2012

Soup Cravings: Harira (Moroccan Lentil Soup)

The cooler, rainier fall weather of late has gotten me in a serious soup-craving mood. Every weekend, I would make a big pot of soup to last me the week—perfect for an easy lunch solution or a light dinner on nights I’m not feeling very hungry. This week’s soup is the Moroccan national dish—harira.

Harira (Moroccan Lentil Soup)

If you’ve never had harira, it’s a rich tomato-based lentil soup, flavoured with a variety of spices and herbs, simmered for a long time to concentrate the flavours, and thickened with flour. It’s certainly a hearty soup, and can easily be eaten on its own as a light meal. And it is so delicious!

Spice Mix

I first made this soup about a year ago, during a cooking day with a friend when we were cooking a menu from Mourad: New Moroccan by Chef Mourad Lahlou (chef of one Michelin-star Aziza in San Francisco), and I instantly fell in love with Chef Mourad’s version of the soup. It’s one of the more complicated soups I’ve ever made. You first have to simmer the pureed tomato and water to reduce it. While that’s happening, you have to also reduce a mixture of pureed onions, herbs and more water. Then you add the reduced onion/herb mixture to the tomato mixture and reduce some more. Add your cooked lentils and you finally have harira. It may sound like a lot of work (and I won’t lie, it is quite hands-on for a soup), but well worth the trouble.

Grilled Flatbread

To serve with the harira, I grilled up some flatbread sprinkled with za’atar (a spice blend of white sesame seeds, sumac, and oregano), a recipe that's also from the Mourad cookbook.


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