Recipe of the week: Harira

The quintessentially Moroccan soup, head to Marrakech’s Djema-el-Fna and breathe deep: that smell is harira (alright, you’re probably smelling henna as well, and maybe leather, and probably a questionable herbalist’s wares, but you get the idea). The ubiquitous broth is tasty, filling and cheap, and when it’s bubbling away on the stove or piping hot in your bowl, utterly transporting.

Many recipes add lentils to harira. If you’re cooking this to keep the cold at bay, maybe it’s not a bad idea, but this recipe thickens into a warming broth anyway, so I generally avoid.

This recipe is the lazy-man’s adaptation of the one given in the Ottolenghi cookbook, which is packed with all manner of other fantastic offerings.

Ingredients (serves 2 hungry people, or good as a starter for 4)

  • 250g of lamb – neck fillet works well, or some leg
  • 200g of washed spinach
  • 1/2 cup (100g) chickpeas – from a can is fine
  • A can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1.2 litres of chicken stock
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • A couple of garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Coriander, roughly chopped
  • A good few squeezes of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Flatbread, to serve

If you’re using dried chickpeas, remember to soak them overnight and boil them up for the time required on the packet. If you’re using their canned cousins – welcome to the lazy club. They work fine in this recipe.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Turn up the heat and add the meat. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the lamb is browned.

Add tomatoes, carrot and chick peas. Keep at a high heat and stir regularly while cooking for a couple of minutes. Add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for around an hour.

Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Add cumin, ginger and saffron. Cook for a further 20 minutes.

The soup’s now good to go. Just before serving, squeeze in the lemon juice, throw in the spinach and give it a quick turn in the soup, then pour into bowls. Sprinkle a little coriander, pour on a little some olive oil if the mood takes, and serve with bread.

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