Hearty, filling, and beautifully fragrant, this is a spice-forward vegetarian version of harira, the traditional soup eaten to break the fast each day during the month of Ramadan. It’s also a staple on many menus throughout Morocco. There’s a long list of ingredients here, but don’t let that dissuade—you likely have many of them on hand. I like to introduce cilantro leaves and stems at multiple points in the cooking process for the best flavour. Also, seek out lentilles du Puy or black lentils here (or use a blend of the two); these varietals keep their shape best throughout the cooking process.
For a gluten-free version, substitute 2 to 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) of cornstarch for the all-purpose flour, and omit the pasta.
Chop cilantro stems finely and set aside in a pile. Chop leaves and reserve separately. In large soup pot over medium-high, heat 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil. Add onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems; stir to coat, and cook until everything softens a bit, 5 minutes or so.
With a mortar and pestle, grind saffron with salt into a powder and add to the pot along with the cinnamon, sweet paprika, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Stir well before adding chickpeas and lentils. Stir in 4 cups (1 L) of the water and bring to a simmer.
In separate large bowl, gradually whisk the remaining 2 cups (500 mL) of water into the flour, a splash at a time to avoid lumps. Add lemon juice, tomatoes with their juice, and most of the remaining cilantro. Stir well, breaking up the tomatoes somewhat. Add this mixture to the soup and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Once at a simmer, cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through. When you have about 5 minutes left, stir in marjoram and pasta. Once pasta is cooked, adjust seasoning and serve topped with dates, the remaining cilantro, remaining olive oil, and reserved celery leaves.
This recipe is part of the Recipes From Near & Far collection.
This vibrant soup is a soul-soothing hug in a bowl. Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that promote health and proper brain function. Apple swap Try swapping out the apples in this recipe for pears. Just like the apples, the subtle sweetness of pears helps balance out the earthiness of the cabbage.
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