Friday, February 18, 2011

Soupe Marocaine - Harira

As followers of my other blog know, I am in Morocco! I'm two weeks in, in a month stay at our "old haunt" in Essaouira. It's absolute bliss. We've been adopted by some locals, who are kind, so kind. We've been in the country, treated to the hospitality of Moroccan farmers, and their daughter Latifa has continued spreading the love. Yesterday, by celebrating Mikael's birthday (a week late) with cake, Moroccan crêpes, and the traditional soup for breaking the fast of Ramadan, harira.

I love this soup. I could eat it every day without getting bored. This also because each Moroccan person/family/restaurant makes their own variation. It can be vegan, vegetarian or with lamb, chicken or beef. However which way you like it. The main points of reference in this soup are the spices, chickpeas, lentils, tomatos, herbs and vermicelli pasta. Beyond that, you can pretty much do what you like. And it'll still taste fabulous!

Here's lovely Latifa, dishing it out for us and our friend the real estate agent here, Salah. I made sure to watch her closely, making mental and real notes. So here, I will first write out which ingredients you will be needing, and approximately how much, after that, there's a lot of gefühl going on. No matter, the outcome will be tasty. I promise. This particular version is vegetarian, but can be made vegan by using only olive oil, vegetable stock cubes and omitting the egg.

2 cups of chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 cup of small, dark green lentils, (pretty sure it was puy)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatos, grated or finely diced
2 cups of finely chopped celery
1 cup of finely chopped coriander
2 eggs, whisked
a small handfull vermicelli pasta
3 tbsp spice mix: equal parts turmeric, powedered safran, powdered ginger
tsp pepper
salt to taste
3 tbsp tomato purée
1-2 tbsp smin (Moroccan rancid butter), or ghee
olive oil
2 vegetable boullion cubes
1 bay leaf

In a large pot (Latifa used a pressure cooker) mix the onion, tomato, chickpeas, lentils, celery, coriander and spices with a big dollop of the olive oil and heat up for a bit, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, when the spices have released their flavor, and the vegetables and herbs are wilted a bit, add a cup of water and the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Add more water, until the pot is about 3/4 full. Now, this is where Latifa put the lit on the pressure cooker, and let it work its magic for half an hour. If you don't have a pressure cooker, I think you'll need to let this simmer for at least an hour, probably two.

Fast forward. After 30 minutes of pressure cooking, or after your hour or two of regular cooking, mix the flour well with a cup of water. Add slowly, little by little, to the still simmering pot, stirring all the while. Let it bubble and thicken. It must thicken, so if you need to make more flour/water and add it, please do, this soup must be thick! Add your bay leaf and stock cubes, and a small handfull of vermicelli pasta. Also, add more water, if necessary. While the pasta are cooking, add the whisked egg, slowly and little by little, while stirring. You should have something that resembles the "egg drop" in Chinese Egg Drop soup. When your pasta are done, add the smin (or ghee or olive oil), remove the bay leaf, and you should be done! Enjoy with bread if you like, but this is quite hearty by itself!

I hope its everything and more. This soup is made for hangovers, cold nights, sickly children or just whenever. I shall amend the recipe as I continue my Harira making career! Bon Appetit!