La Soupe de Maman

October 1st, 2010 § 6 comments

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.

Harira [1]

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!

Harira [3]
What you will need…

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.

Harira [2]

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.
Bon appétit!

* 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.



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§ 6 Responses to La Soupe de Maman"

  • jetty says:

    thank you for putting a nice photograph on your web site.
    It looks familiair to me. I am going to try the celerypuree. I thought you put some cranberries in it too. let me know.

    • mykitchendiaries says:

      Hi Jetty. I know a lucky one who can enjoy this view everyday! Indeed last time I made the mashed celeriac I mixed in a couple of tablespoons of cranberry compote that I had made as a side for the game. I liked the tang and color it brought to the mash and I think I’ll do it again.
      Hugs. M.

  • mykitchendiaries says:

    Magda, Karen, I’m happy to share it with you! Let me know if you try it…

    Magda, truth is I get most of my spices when I go to Morocco, but If I’d need anything here, I think I’d head to one of the spice/olive stalls on the market in the Hague. What are you looking for in particular?

    Cheers, M.

    • I also get my spices from Greece :)
      I was looking for sumac, nigella seeds and caraway seeds. A friend of mine from Greece sent me sumac but the rest I can;t find here. Do they sell these at the haagse maarkt? I haven’t noticed.

  • Karen says:

    How delicious! This sounds like a perfect soup for chilly fall days. Love that it’s so flavorful with all the different spices. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for this recipe! This kind of generosity is what makes blogging amazing. I’m definitely making this soup—it’s already so cold in The Hague—and I will handle it with love.

    P.S. do you know any good Moroccan food stores in the Hague? I’m looking for some spices that I can’t find anywhere! Thanks

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