|spicy harrira stew|
While this version of the soup is vegetarian, you can include meat, such as lamb or beef. It is not a soup that is restricted to Ramadan across the Muslim world; it is also served at special celebrations, and why not? It is deliciously satisfying.
You can use all of the different types of beans below or a mixture of the ones you like. I tend to prefer just chickpeas, but I have also use borlotti beans (which were a bit mushy) and cannellini and butter beans as well, which soak up all the flavours beautifully.
I also make a thicker version of this, by omitting most of the liquid and just using a tin of chickpeas. It goes very well with a lamb tagine or lamb cooked in ras-el-hanout and couscous.
Skill level: Easy (don't be put off by the long list of ingredients, most of them are ones you probably have in your store cupboard already)
2 x onions, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
50g chick peas
50g butter beans
50g black-eyed beans
50g red kidney beans
50g green lentils
50g yellow split peas
50g green haricot beans
2 x tins tomatoes, chopped
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
½ ginger, dried (While this works, you could use a smallish quantity of fresh ginger, to taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
juice of ½ lemon (or lime)
1½ tsp salt
1½-2 tbsp flour
1 large handful of fresh coriander or parsley, finely chopped (or a mixture of both)
2 tsp mint, dried or a couple of sprigs of fresh
1 tsp paprika
a pinch of cayenne (optional)
50g tiny pasta shapes or rice (optional)
- Check the dried pulses for small stones and rinse (as they may well be dusty) if using. Prepare as directed. If using canned beans, just drain and rinse.
- Heat the butter and oil mixture in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and give it a good stir.
- Add the red pepper and continue to fry gently.
- Add the drained beans and pulses and stir.
- Add all of the spices and the lemon or lime juice. Do not add salt at this point as it will toughen up the chickpeas.
- Add the vegetable stock and tomato puree and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer on a very low heat for about 20-30 minutes, checking the liquid levels so it doesn't dry out. Top up with more liquid if necessary.
- About 10 minutes before the end, add the chopped coriander.
- Add beef, lamb or chicken for a meaty version.