moroccan harrira soup

spicy harrira stew
This is a version of a soup recipe from Claudia Roden, traditionally prepared during Ramadan and eaten to break the fast. Apparently, the streets of Morocco are perfumed at sunset with thousands of different versions of this fragrant soup. 
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.

Serves 8
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)

olive oil
15g butter
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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the red pepper and continue to fry gently.
  4. Add the drained beans and pulses and stir.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. About 10 minutes before the end, add the chopped coriander.
  •  Add beef, lamb or chicken for a meaty version.


Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

I want to see this... where's the PHOTO? Sounds amazing, I love these kins of thick bean spicy soup stews... simply heavenly and hearty for this time of year...

Northern Snippet said...

The Claudia Roden book is lovely.I agree these types of soup are great with meat added,we did one with beef added and spiced it up with some extra chilli.
Though for the pub menu we tend to stick with a veggie soup.
Middle Eatern flavours are lovely this time of year warming
and hearty.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I'm sorry, I meant to take a picture but by the time I had turned around my guinea pigs seem to have inhaled the lot! Having said that, I make this often so I am sure there will be a picture shortly.

On another note, one of my friends once said after eating this that there was "a party going on in my mouth" . . . enchanting!