Harira - A Spiced Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup

In looking at all of the spices on the shelf, my eye first darted past the harissa but quickly darted back.  It had been awhile since I had explored cooking with it.  It is a spice or paste that is said to have originated in Tunisia but can be found across North Africa.    Harissa ingredients vary across the region based on the country and ethnicity.  Basically, it is a combination of hot peppers, herbs, garlic salt and olive oil.  It is hot!  It is as common place in the area as mustard and ketchup!

I was in the market for some type of vegetable soup that included harissa in the list of ingredients.  I had the basics: chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, celery, carrots.  Plus, I had leftover chicken that I intended to add to the pot.  My search for soup stopped when I saw a recipe for Harira, a Moroccan Vegetable Soup.  It was the perfect combination of spices and who wouldn't like a version of Harira that originated from a Moroccan grandmother!

Spiced Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Yield:  8-10 servings

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced (app. 2 cups)
3 stalks celery, diced (app 1-1/2 cups)
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp harissa ( dried red chili flakes may be substituted)
Salt to taste
1 bunch parsley, chopped (app 1 1/2 cups, divided)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (app 1 1/2 cups, divided)
1 can (15 oz) tomatoes, crushed or 1 can diced tomatoes
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 cup green lentils
2 cooked and shredded or cubed chicken breast
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp flour
1 large egg
Juice of two lemons (app 1/4 cup)

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven lover medium heat and sauté the onion, celery, and carrots until the onion is translucent and begins to brown, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Add the turmeric, cumin, harissa, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup each of the parsley and cilantro, tomatoes, and the stock.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  

Add the chickpeas and the lentils to the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Until the lentils are cooked.
If you are using dried chickpeas, see the directions, here.

Mix the flour, egg, and lemon juice into 2 cups of water.  Stir the mixture into the soup.  Allow the soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Serve the soup with sprinkled with additional parsley and cilantro.  Serve additional Harissa on the side.

This was a very tasty soup.  It is one I intend to make again and again!


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