Ramadan recipe: vegetarian harira soup

Throughout the holy month, The National is teaming up with Table Tales to share daily recipes to experiment with at home

Harira soup by Amina Rizk. Courtesy Table Tales
Harira soup by Amina Rizk. Courtesy Table Tales

Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month and the home cook alike.

Harira can be considered the national soup of Morocco, prepared as it is in unending variations in every city, street and home. It is comforting, nourishing and a religious institution unto itself. It feeds the soul as well as the stomach.

During Ramadan, nearly every family in Morocco breaks the fast at sunset with a bowl of harira accompanied by a couple of dates and chebakia, flower-shaped cookies sprinkled with sesame seeds.

I’ve learnt from my Moroccan friends that there are likely as many ways to prepare harira as there are households in the country

Hanan Sayed Worrell

Hanan Sayed Worrell of Table Tales says: “I’ve learnt from my Moroccan friends that there are likely as many ways to prepare harira as there are households in the country. Some soups have more herbs, others have a rich tomato base, and some are made with lamb, beef or chicken.

“In this recipe, my friend Amina replaces the meat with portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian option, which is delicious and hearty. The consistency of the soup is a personal taste, with some cooks preferring to thicken it with tadouira (in Moroccan cuisine, a flour-based thickener), which gives it a velvety texture and its namesake.

"Harira is derived from the Arabic word for silk, and one spoonful can easily confirm that.”

Amina Rizk's harira soup (Moroccan tomato soup with chickpeas and lentils)

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 28g butter
  • 340g yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 450g portobello mushrooms
  • 225g celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
  • 15g parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric or Moroccan yellow colourant
  • 255g cooked chickpeas
  • 100g lentils, washed
  • 900g tomatoes, peeled and pureed, or canned
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 40g all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp vermicelli, uncooked
  • 60ml lemon juice
Spices used in Amina Rizk's harira soup recipe. Courtesy Table Tales
Spices used in Amina Rizk's harira soup recipe. Courtesy Table Tales

Method:

  1. In a large casserole, heat the oil and butter over medium heat, then saute the onions for two to three minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms, celery, parsley, fresh coriander, salt, cumin, coriander powder, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, white pepper and turmeric or colourant. Stir well for two minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas and a litre of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the lentils and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste and a litre of hot water and simmer for 45 minutes. Check the liquid occasionally and add more water if needed.
  6. While the soup is cooking, make the tadouira by mixing the flour with 120 millilitres of water. Stir or whisk the mixture occasionally. The flour will eventually blend with the water. If the mixture still has lumps, pass it through a sieve.
  7. When the lentils and chickpeas are soft, sprinkle the vermicelli into the soup and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
  8. To thicken, drizzle the tadouira into the soup in a steady stream while continuously stirring so the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Simmer for five to 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  9. Serve in individual soup bowls with a lemon wedge on the side and a couple of dates in the tradition of breaking the Ramadan fast, the Moroccan way.

This dish has been brought to you by Amina Rizk and curated by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. The Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to recipes of the Middle East.

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Read more:

Ramadan recipes: daily dishes to try from the 'Table Tales' series

Ramadan recipe: Kabsa – Saudi Arabian rice pilaf with chicken

Ramadan recipe: homemade falafel

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Published: April 28, 2021 03:14 PM

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