The Scent of Harira

Déjà vu, synchronicity, or coincidence? I’m not sure what word would best describe this situation. All I can tell you is that I did not plan nor did I realize that my next recipe was going to be another Harira soup.

This version doesn’t have lamb meat, but it does come from The Scent of Orange Blossoms which is a traditional cookbook of Jewish-Moroccan recipes. So, we can gather that this version is more traditional than Isa’s.

The authors of this cookbook say that this dish “typifies the cross-cultural exchanges between Morocco’s Arab and Jewish communities.”

Both cultures have a tradition where they break each day’s fast with this soup. Muslims in the month of Ramadan and Jews at the end of Yom Kippur.

The lesson I get from this is that food is the answer for peace! I declare open borders for food!

Getting back to tradition. Isa, in the last entry seemed surprised one would use angel hair pasta in this soup, but the two ladies who wrote this cookbook mention that angel hair is one of many variations. Should I let Isa know?

You can also use leavened bread as well as various types of grains.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup of brown lentils, cleaned and picked over
  • 7 1/2 cups of beef stock
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 20 sprigs of cilantro
  • 15 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of raw long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • Wedges of lemon

The first step is to heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. By the way, when in doubt, use medium heat. Moderation is a friend of the doubtful.

Add the onions to the pot and stir in a moderate intervals of time for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the celery, lentils, and 6 1/2 cups of stock. Cover your pot and bring this to the max boil, aka rolling boil. Cook this under the max boil for 10-15 minutes and then decrease to moderate medium.

While this is happening, you can prepare your tomatoes via the scoring method. Scoring involves marking your tomatoes with the x of death on the stem and then boiling in max heat boil for 30 seconds. Drain and cool the tomatoes after that and by then you can skin them alive and chop them to bits.

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Cooking is brutal

When you have brutally murdered and dismembered your tomatoes, you will add them into a blender with 1/2 cup of stock, cilantro, parsley, turmeric, and ginger. Your goal is to have a fairly smooth consistency. When you’ve reached that goal, add it to your pot along with rice and garbanzo beans. Cook this for 30-35 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

5 minutes before your soup is ready, bring it to a simmer. While it is simmering, in a bowl, mix flour with the remaining stock to create a paste. Add this to the soup and stir until it thickens.

You are now ready to serve your soup with a fresh slice of lemon!

I liked this version of Harira better than Isa’s. It wasn’t as hearty, but I preferred that. The lemon slices are a nice touch that I enjoyed as well. It gave the soup a refreshing citrus taste that wasn’t present in Isa’s version.

I can see why both are popular to end a fasting period too. They are hearty, comforting, and relatively healthy at the same time.

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