Natural Health Tips

Vegetarian Harira: Chickpea and Lentil Soup

This is a vegetarian version of harira, a delightful Moroccan chick pea and lentil soup. This recipe makes a substantial soup which provides a rich and filling meal on its own. It is bursting with nutrient-dense foods like fiber- and protein-rich chickpeas, lentils and noodles, tomatoes which contain lycopene, and a variety of herbs and spices that are high in health-protective antioxidants.

Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients - most of them are herbs, spices or other common ingredients that most of us already have in the cupboard.

This soup is even more delicious when reheated and eaten the next day, when the flavors have had time to develop.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup dried chick peas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil / ghee
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely or grated
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • ½ tsp turmeric / haldi
  • 5 ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ cup dried split red lentils
  • 1 liter vegetable stock
  • Generous pinch saffron strands, soaked in 75ml hot water
  • Large bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • Large bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup soup noodles / rice vermicelli
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Ground cinnamon

Preparation

  • Soak the chick peas overnight in plenty of cold water.

  • Heat the olive oil or ghee in a large saucepan and, over a medium heat, fry the onion for at least 10-15 minutes until softened and slightly browned.

  • Remove the skin from the tomatoes by soaking them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then removing and rinsing them in cold water. The skins should peel away easily. Deseed and chop the tomatoes.

  • Add the crushed garlic, ginger, ground cumin, turmeric or haldi, and 3 of the chopped tomatoes, and fry together for a further 5 minutes. Then add the drained chick peas, the lentils and stock. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 hour over a low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking.

  • When the chickpeas are completely soft throughout - this may take up to 30 minutes more, add the saffron and its soaking water. Season the soup with salt and pepper, add the noodles and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the noodles are soft. The soup should now have a thick consistency.

  • Just before serving, add the remaining 2 chopped tomatoes and stir in the lemon juice. Spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Serve with warmed bread.