Recipe: Moroccan Harira Soup for Ramadan
Hearty Moroccan Harira Soup. It is that time of year again, when the month of Ramadan approaches us. It’s a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on Allah and practice self-sacrifice. During the hot summer days, this will be an exceptionally long fast. There has not been a Ramadan in the month of July since 1980. It is especially important to make sure you are staying hydrated and eating nutritious food.
As a revert, I am still new to Islam and this will be my first Ramadan, insha’Allah. My South Asian family has many traditions which include a lot of deep-fried goods. Healthy eating has always been important to me and I wanted to see what other cultures were eating during Ramadan. I discovered a flavourful and healthy Moroccan Harira Soup. Moroccans often eat it for Iftar and even Suhoor because it is packed with protein, carbs and vitamins. Soup is easy for your body to absorb after a long day of fasting and has lots of water to hydrate you.
There are many different ways to make Harira Soup and the recipes vary from family to family. I have added as many healthy foods as I could into this particular recipe but feel free to include anything you like, there is no right or wrong way. Your family and friends will love the bold flavours of Moroccan Harira Soup from the sweetness of the carrots to the zest of the lemon and the aromatic spices. Most importantly, their bellies will be satisfied by the hearty dish. Insha’Allah, this soup will be a new healthy tradition in your family for Iftar.
Moroccan Harira Soup Recipe
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 lb stewing beef, cut into small 1/2 inch cubes*
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 cups canned chickpeas
- 1 cup canned lentils
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup orzo whole wheat pasta*
- 1 can of tomato paste (5.5oz)
- 8 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock *
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1-2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh grated ginger)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium. Saute the onion, celery and garlic until translucent.
2. Add beef, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, cumin and coriander to pot and stir to toast the spices and brown the beef. Approx. 2-3 minutes. You will smell the smokey aroma and know the spices are done.
3. Pour in vegetable stock, carrots, chickpeas, lentils and tomato paste and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes to bring the flavours together.
4. Add the orzo pasta and let cook 8-10 minutes. Soup will thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste (or if you can not taste it while you are fasting, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper and then season it to your taste at the table).
5. Finely chop the fresh parsley and cilantro. Save a bit for garnish. Roughly chop a handful of spinach and add to pot with the herbs. Once spinach has wilted your soup is done.
6. Ladle into bowls and serve with harissa* for a kick and a lemon wedge for zest. Enjoy.
Make a big batch ahead of time and omit step 5 then freeze portions for easy Iftar preparation. When thawing out soup in a pot, add fresh herbs and spinach at the end to preserve colour, freshness and nutrition.
*Use any kind of meat you have on hand; lamb, chicken or beef, or go vegetarian. The legumes have plenty of protein.
*Your body processes white pasta very much like sugar, make sure you use whole wheat pasta for a slower carb burn and more energy.
*Water can be used in place of vegetable stock if needed.
*Harissa is a traditional Moroccan spicy condiment made with spices, lemon and olive oil.
Kitchen Tip: Freeze chopped fresh herbs in ice-cube trays with a bit of water for easy portions when cooking. Keep in labeled freezer bags for 3-4 months.
Wishing you and your family a very blessed Ramadan and Eid Mubarak, insha’Allah.
Maryam (Lindsay Contractor) is a wife and mother of one beautiful baby girl. She is currently on maternity leave and an Independent Epicure Consultant selling gourmet spice blends and cookware. She attended university in Washington state where she played varsity NCAA Division 1 volleyball on a scholarship. Maryam moved to Toronto from Vancouver BC in 2009 for a promotion at work and met her husband and reverted to Islam. Her favorite things are Kalamalka Lake in her hometown, Vernon, BC and eating great food with her family. Her favorite cuisine is Moroccan and Greek. You can read more articles and recipes from Maryam and Shop Epicure on her website www.spiceandthecity.ca.