So much warmth and love in just a bowl of soup… My Mum’s Harira.
It’s all the warmth and heartiness of the love of a mother for her children, the color and spiciness of a buzzing and happy family reunion, the mix of simplicity and complexity of an ancestral tradition… an epiphany.
In (Muslim) Moroccan households, Harira is eaten every evening at sunset to break the fast during Ramadan and in the morning following a wedding. Every Moroccan woman has her own special recipe, once whispered into her ear by her mother, her aunt, her grandmother… before she made it her own. It is almost always cooked in astronomical quantities, and although the recipes vary, it usually includes lentils and/or chickpeas, meat bones, tomatoes, celery stalks, tons of parsley and coriander, spices, and flour.
Maybe it’s the first chills of autumn, or the last symptoms of my end-summer-blues… I don’t know why but I’ve felt for a persisting crave for a bowl of my mom’s soup, the last couple of weeks. As you might have gotten it by now there’s no way I could look up this recipe in a book or on Google. So I called my Maman and tenderly, she whispered in my ear… I’m whispering to you today. Please, handle this recipe with love!
La Harira de ma Maman
serves a lot of people!* (I’d say at least 12).
prep: 30 min. cook: ~1h 45min
30 g butter;
2 Tsp olive oil;
1 meat bone (preferably veal);
400 g mixed meat cuts from beef, lamb, veal and/or chicken (I used lamb neck and veal shank), cut into small pieces (~1cmx1cm)
300 g blond or green lentils,
3 large onions, chopped very thin;
2 celery stalks, chopped very thin;
1 handful celery leaves, chopped very thin;
2 handful parsley, chopped very thin;
2 handful coriander/cilantro, chopped very thin;
1 tsp ground turmeric;
1 tsp ground ginger;
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds;
1 pinch cinnamon;
1 pinch saffron;
~ 2.5 L water at room temperature;
sea salt, black pepper and chili pepper to taste;
3 cans of chopped tomatoes (3x400g);
a hint of Smen** (optional);
To bind***: 2 Tsp flour, mixed in ~15 cl water at room temperature;
First, prepare and chop all ingredients.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a VERY deep and large pan (I use the bottom part of my couscous pan) on medium heat.
Add the bone and the chopped meat, toss to coat. Add the chopped onion, celery, parsley, 2/3rd of the coriander, the lentils, the spices (and the Smen). Season to taste with sea salt, black pepper and chili pepper. Toss well and leave to cook for about 5 minutes, tossing from time to time to mix in the flavours.
Pour enough water to cover the ingredients with a couple of centimeters extra. Cover and bring to a boil.
Once the broth has come to a boil, after 5 to 10 minutes, pour in the tomatoes. Toss well and adjust the seasoning. Lower the heat and leave to simmer covered for 1 h to 1 h 15 min or until the lentils are cooked through.
To bind the soup, pour slowly the flour mixed with water, toss well and leave to simmer for 15 more minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the remaining coriander.
Serve steaming hot with a side of moroccan bread, boiled eggs cut in halves, dates, lemon wedges and salt and cumin to dip the eggs.
* Don’t freak out! It’s sounds like an awful lot but this soup is a keeper and it tastes even better the days after! I usually have a bunch of people over on the first night and freeze what’s left in portions, for the gloomy days.
** Smen, is very typical to the Moroccan cuisine and enhances many traditional dishes. It is preserved butter made of goat and sheep milk. It has a very powerful slightly pungent taste. If you ever get your hands on it, it will add that special little something to your Harira. But beware: use with care!
*** This binding mixture is called Tadouira, some add tomato paste. You can use more or less flour depending on how thick you like your soup.
Bienvenue & Bon appetit in my kitchen!
Myriam, la gourmande.
Coming up at Foodmoodz…
- almond appetizers apple asparagus autumn bites Breakfast brunch cakes cheese chicken chocolate Christmas food citrus comfort food feast fish gluten free greens hazelnut lemon lunchfare meat moroccan food onion pasta pear poultry sauces savoury tart soup spices spring starter strawberry summer sweets tajine tart tea time Travel vanilla veal vegetarian winter