In Morocco, families take great time and effort to prepare their own versions of the lentil soup called Harira. Especially enjoyed during Ramadan, Harira typically breaks the fast in the evening, though it can be enjoyed anytime during the year. Recipes vary greatly, with some including starchy broken pasta or rice. This version eliminates the extra starch, but still delivers the filling, satisfying, hearty taste of the original. Lentils and chickpeas provide a satiating source of vegetarian protein, while pureeing the soup disguises a variety of antioxidant and fiber rich vegetables. Spices give the soup a warming quality, and the addition of fresh lemon juice at the end adds a fresh brightness to the dish. Yogurt and mint, while optional, make the soup feel special and look festive enough to serve to company. Don’t let the long ingredient list deter you; the preparation for this soup is simple, and it comes together in under 45 minutes.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions (roughly 2 medium sized onions)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 3/4 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed and drained
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 3 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1/2 medium)
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Thick plain yogurt (like Greek yogurt), and chopped fresh mint, to serve
- In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and carrots, and sauté with a pinch of salt until the onions have started to caramelize and the carrots soften, about 8 minutes.
- Add the ground spices to the pot, stirring for a minute to toast the spices. Add the lentils, and stir to make sure they are well coated.
- Add the vegetable broth, water, tomatoes, chickpeas, and cauliflower, and bring everything up to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and the lentils are fully cooked.
- Using a hand blender or a regular blender, puree the soup until almost smooth, leaving some texture. You can also skip this step altogether and serve the soup as is.
- Stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, top with a small spoonful of the yogurt, and a sprinkling of chopped fresh mint.