Recently, when Rachel and I did a Zoom cooking demonstration for the young women of the Jewish Federation’s Emerging Philanthropists group, I was really embarrassed.
Not because of how we performed on the Zoom: that was great and fun.
But because my husband and kids couldn’t stop eating the soup that Rachel had made for the demonstration.
The reviews were unanimous—Rachel’s Harira Soup was beyond delicious and hard to resist! But I made them stop after their second helpings.
Harira is a hearty, robust soup with a tomato base that is traditionally flavored with beef, lamb or chicken and lots of bones, but for our farm to table demonstration, Rachel came up with a very tasty vegetarian version.
HARIRA IS A HEARTY, ROBUST SOUP WITH A TOMATO BASE THAT IS TRADITIONALLY FLAVORED WITH BEEF, LAMB OR CHICKEN AND LOTS OF BONES, BUT FOR OUR FARM TO TABLE DEMONSTRATION, RACHEL CAME UP WITH A VERY TASTY VEGETARIAN VERSION.
Full of bright orange fall harvest vegetables, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots, that provide beta carotene, as well as garbanzos and green lentils, pulses that are rich sources of protein, fiber, folate and minerals like iron and potassium, this soup is nutritionally dense and low in fat. Parsley and cilantro, onions and celery, freshly ground turmeric, cumin and black pepper round out the flavor profile and up the antioxidant factor.
Harira comes from the the Arabic word for silk which refers to the velvety smooth texture lent by a tedouira (thickener) made from flour and water. But in a nod to the trend for gluten-free food, Rachel replaced the flour with an egg whipped with lemon juice. She replaced the green lentils in the recipe with red lentils because they soften quickly and add a pleasing creaminess to the soup.
In Morocco’s cities, Harira is a popular, inexpensive street food, widely available in restaurants and market stalls. At streetside carts, this zesty soup is served in bowls that are then dunked in a bucket of tepid water and reused (environmentally friendly, but eek!). It is also customarily eaten by the Muslims to break the fast during Ramadan. And like so many other culinary influences, this soup has been adopted by the French Moroccan Jews.
As the leaves turn orange, the days grow shorter and the air blows a little cooler, try this amazing soup (just make sure my family isn’t around).
HARIRA MOROCCAN VEGETABLE SOUP (gluten free)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3-4 celery stalks, sliced
2 large carrots, halved and sliced
1 large sweet potato, cubed
4 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 large potato, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon harissa (paste) or dried red chile flakes/or harissa powder
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups vegetable, beef, or chicken stock
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 large egg
1/3 cup of lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the sliced onions until they start turning golden,
Add the turmeric, cumin, harissa or chile flakes, salt and pepper and sauté with the onions until well coated.
Add the celery, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, and potato, stir and coat with spice mixture
Add cup each of the parsley and cilantro, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste
Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil,
Add the lentils and canned garbanzos and simmer for an hour
Whisk the egg and lemon juice. Stir into the soup.
Simmer the soup about 5 minutes and serve, top with cilantro and parsley.
Quick tip: If making this soup as a main course, you can add cut up pieces of thin egg noodle or a cup of rice or a cup of barley.