This traditional soup is eaten to break the fast during the month of Ramadan. This is a vegetarian version of Harira Soup, but those who like meat can add lamb, chicken or beef. In Morocco Harira Soup is served with a bowl of fresh dates, and although this may seem unusual, the combination is delicious.
200g (7oz) Chickpeas 1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ cup (125ml/4floz) olive oil salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger 2 cups (500ml/16floz) water
4 garlic cloves, crushed 5 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour
2 onions, diced juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves 2 x 400g (14oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 sticks celery, chopped 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1L (32fl oz) vegetable stock 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
200g (7oz) dried brown lentils 150g (5oz) vermicelli pasta, broken up
Pinch saffron threads extra coriander (cilantro), to garnish
1 tablespoon saffron colouring croutons or hot crusty bread, to serve
1-tablespoon sweet paprika fresh dates, to serve
½ red chilli, finely chopped
Soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of water overnight. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, and fry the ginger, garlic onions bay leaves and celery until the onion softens. Add 2 cups of the stock and the chickpeas, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the lentils, saffron threads and colouring, sweet paprika, chilli, cumin, salt and pepper. Cover with remaining stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
In a glass or stainless steel bowl, gradually mix the water into the flour. Add the lemon juice and tomatoes. Place the bowl over the steaming pot, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Add the parsley and coriander to the bowl, then add the mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add vermicelli and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve with croutons or hot crusty bread. Serve dates on the side.