Gently Spiced Harira Recipe With Argan Oil

Spiced harira with Argan oil.
Spiced harira with Argan oil.

This is a traditional soup recipe from Morocco which can be served as an appetizer or snack. It is often served during Ramadan to break the fast, but this tasty dish is enjoyable at any time, especially if you want a deliciously different lunch or a light supper. Harira is a nutritious combination of vegetables, spices, tomatoes and beans.

Recipes vary but here we are using sweet onion, carrots and tomatoes, along with garbanzo beans and lentils. Lemon juice, vegetable broth and cilantro complement the flavor of this classic Moroccan soup, while the turmeric, coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon offer plenty of aromatic flavor and give this dish its characteristic Moroccan taste.

The ingredients used to make harira depend to some extent whereabouts in Morocco where it is being made, since there are regional variations. Sometimes ‘tadouira’ is used to thicken the dish, and this is a flour, water and canned tomato paste mixture. Rice may be used instead to give the same effect. We are using canned tomatoes, beans and lentils, all of which break up a bit in the harira to give it a good consistency.

Harira is sometimes served with salt and cumin-sprinkled boiled eggs, or with figs, crepes, bread, or dates. Instead of adding lemon juice you might like to serve it with lemon wedges so everyone can squeeze in their own lemon juice.

We are using argan oil to prepare this delicious, thick soup. This oil is ideal for lightly cooking the vegetables when you begin the soup, and drizzling a little more over the finished soup just before serving adds a rich, luxurious touch and a creamy, nutty taste that complements all the other ingredients we are using.

This recipe makes eight servings, but it’s worth making the full amount because it heats back up well. When reheating it, don’t bring it to a boil else the lentils might stick to the bottom of the pan. Warm it up over a medium heat and stir often. If you want to freeze it, let it cool down first, then freeze in batches. It’s best to add fresh cilantro to the harira when serving though, rather than freezing it, so ensure you have some to add just before serving.

What You Need:

2 tablespoons culinary argan oil
1 finely chopped sweet onion (Vidalia or similar)
3 peeled, finely chopped carrots
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
28 oz (825g) canned diced tomatoes
30 oz (875g) canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 cup (200g) dried red lentils
4 cups (1 liter) low-sodium vegetable broth
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup (5g) finely chopped cilantro leaves

How to Make It:

Heat half the argan oil in a big pot over a moderate heat, then add the onions and carrots. Saute these vegetables for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring every now and then. Stir in the turmeric, coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently.

Next you can add the tomatoes and cook the mixture, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned, stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pot. This will take about 5 minutes. Stir in the garbanzo beans and lentils, then add the vegetable broth. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn the heat back down and cook for 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Take the pot off the heat and stir in about half the cilantro and all the lemon juice. Divide the mixture between 8 warmed serving bowls and drizzle with the rest of the Argan oil. Sprinkle the rest of the cilantro on top and serve right away while it’s still hot.

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