Can you believe Ramadan is just around the corner? This year, it will fall during the month of August – when it is blazing hot here in Abu Dhabi. Despite the heat, soup is still my favorite thing to break fast with. Aside from shourbat ads (crushed lentil soup), this recipe has won my heart as a Ramadan favorite. This Moroccan soup is the most decadent soup of all soups. It is reserved for special occasions, and is often considered a meal in itself. While your kitchen becomes filled with the delicate aromas of saffron and ginger, your stomach is warmed with the hearty combination of lentils, chickpeas, and lamb. I generally do not like lamb, but a nice cut of lean lamb, cooked well is incredibly tasty. I made this soup last week using cut sirloin cubes, and it was just as delicious – so feel free to substitute beef for lamb.
Although there are many different versions of this soup, this simplified version spares none of the original flavor. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook this low and slow for about 1.5 hours, or until the meat is very tender. My Moroccan friend once told me to use a whole cup of chopped cilantro. I do think that cilantro is very important to this dish, but I know some of you think it tastes like soap, so you can use parsley (I use both). But dont skimp and used the dried stuff – use fresh greens!
Harira (Spicy Lamb Soup)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes (with a pressure cooker)
1 lb boneless, trimmed leg of lamb – diced into small cubes
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 clove of garlic
pinch of thyme
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup of celery, diced
1 cup brown lentils (rinse well)
1/4 cup of tomato paste (approx. 3 tbsp)
1 tomato, diced
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
juice of 1/2 lemon (can add more to taste)
(1) Combine lamb with salt, pepper, ginger, saffron, thyme, curry, and garlic. Add a dash of olive oil to moisten the mixture. Mix well. Let the lamb marinate while you prepare the other ingredients. You can also prepare this the night before.
(2) In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium/high heat. Saute the onion and celery. Add the lamb, and brown on all sides.
(3) Add the lentils, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Mix well. Add another pinch of salt and curry (and red chili flakes, if you like heat). Cover the mixture with approximately 2 to 3 cups of water.
(4) Cover the pressure cooker, and let the pressure build for approximately 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 25 minutes.
(5) Release the pressure according to the instructions for your pressure cooker.
(6) Add the can of drained chickpeas, parsley/cilantro, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Let simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the chickpeas soften.
(7) Serve and enjoy!