According to Troth Wells's The World of Street Food, harira is Morocco's national soup. The dish usually consists of either chickpeas or lentils, along with tomatoes, saffron, and other spices. Of course, as is the case with most national dishes, there are hundreds of variations, including some that contain meat, fresh dates, and nuts.
Since it was my first time making harira, I figured this relatively spare version would be the perfect way to go. It's also meatless and can be made vegetarian by swapping out the chicken stock for vegetable stock or water.
Either way, the first thing you'll notice is the aroma and red tint from the healthy pinch of saffron. But it's also infused with ginger, turmeric, and both cilantro and parsley. Though I was worried about adding the flour slurry at the end—it's not even cooked that long—it seems to have worked well. Either way, some lemon juice at the end really helps to balance each spoonful.
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas or lentils, drained
- 6 shallots, ends trimmed, peeled, and left whole
- ½ teaspoon saffron strands, soaked in ¼ cup warm water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 6 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, divided
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, divided
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, combine the chickpeas or lentils, shallots, saffron, turmeric, ginger, tomatoes, tomato paste, stock or water, olive oil, half of the cilantro, and half of the parsley. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove ½ cup of the liquid and pour into a small bowl. Add the flour and stir until there are no lumps. Add more liquid if it looks too much like a paste. Whisk this mixture back into the large saucepan. Also, add the lemon and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let the soup cook for five minutes.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining cilantro and parsley.