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    Vegetarian Harira

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    Vegetarian Harira

    This is my vegetarian version of a Moroccan chick pea and lentil soup, traditionally served to end the fast of Ramadan and usually cooked very slowly in meat stock, over an open coal burner. You'll find this meatless version almost as rich and definitely as filling as the traditional thing. It's important that the chick peas are absolutely tender, so cook them for as long as you have to. All pulses will cook differently according to their age; the older they are, the longer they'll take to cook. If you have a pressure cooker, you might like to cook the soup in that - it can halve the cooking time. This soup is even more delicious if made a day ahead and reheated.

    • Vegetarian
    • Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus overnight soaking
    • Cooking time: 120 minutes
    • Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes, plus overnight soaking 25 minutes

    Serves: 4 - 6


    • Juice of half a lemon
    • 200g dried chick peas
    • 60ml light olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 5 cloves garlic, 3 chopped finely and 2 left whole
    • 1 tbsp ground cumin
    • ½ tbsp ground ginger
    • 5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
    • 100g tinned brown lentils, drained
    • 1 vegetable stock cube
    • 1 litre water
    • Generous pinch saffron strands, soaked in 75ml hot water
    • Large bunch coriander, finely chopped
    • Large bunch parsley, finely chopped
    • ½ tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • To serve:
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • Lemon wedges
    • Wheat tortillas


    1. The day before you want to serve the dish, put the chick peas to soak in plenty of cold water.
    2. Heat the light olive oil in a large saucepan and, over a medium heat, fry the onion for at least 15 minutes until well browned. Add the chopped garlic, the ground cumin and ginger and 3 of the chopped tomatoes and fry together for a further 5 minutes. Then add the drained chick peas, the lentils, stock cube and whole garlic cloves as well as the water. Cover with a well-fitting lid and simmer for 1 hour over a low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking
    3. Uncover the pan and test the consistency of the chick peas. Return them to the boil and simmer until you are satisfied that the chick peas are completely soft with no trace of chalkiness - this may take up to 30 minutes.
    4. Add more water if you like, but bear in mind that the soup should be thick. When the chick peas are cooked, add the saffron and its soaking water and cook for 5 minutes more so the chick peas are starting to break up.
    5. Just before serving, add the remaining 2 chopped tomatoes, then the parsley and coriander, reserving a little of each for garnish. Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice, add a scattering of parsley and coriander on top and drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges and a stack of oven-warmed or pan-toasted wheat tortillas by the side.

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