Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Harira a.k.a. North African Spiced Soup

All right so I'm not going to spend $18 for 5 strands of saffron. Call me cheap but...well...maybe I am. Maybe it wouldn't have made much difference to this exotic tomato soup.

Supposedly this soup is served in the evening during Ramadan, the Muslim festival when followers fast during the daytime for a month. I found it warm both because that's the nature of soups and due to the cinnamon, grated ginger and chickpeas. This is perfect for a slight twist on a basic tomato soup.

North African Spiced Soup (always from 400 Best-Ever Soups)

1 large onion, chopped
5 cups stock
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp grated ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 hot pepper, cut into rings (my contribution to this recipe)
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 lb floury potatoes, diced
5 strands saffron
14 oz can chickpeas, drained
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
fried or barbecues lemon wedges, optional

1. Place the chopped onion in a large pot with 1 1/4 cups of vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mix together the cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, caryenne pepper and 2 tbsp of stock to form a paste. Stir into the onion mixture with the carrots, celery, pepper and remaining stock.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and potatoes and simmer gently, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the saffron, chickpeas, cilantro and lemon juice. Season to taste and when piping hot, serve with optional fried or barbecued wedges of lemon.

This one scored a 3.3 out of 5. It's good but it's not "holly shit is this ever good" good.

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