David Tanis’s A Platter of Figs is one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the simple but completely original mediterranean-themed food, the organization of the book by seasons, the pre-set menus with each recipe strong enough to stand on its own, and the emphasis on hospitality that runs throughout. Absolutely one of my favorite cookbooks.
Everything I’ve made so far–from mustard rabbit to ricotta-tomato crostini–has been an unqualified success. And now, harira soup (made with lamb stew meat picked up at Drumlin Farm). Delicious. Also, typical humble food–this recipe stretches a pound of inexpensive meat into a soup that can serve 8-10 people. (In our case, several lunches and frozen meals for the future).
Sauteeing the meat and spices (saffron, turmeric, ground chile, cinnamon, ginger, pepper).
Simmering the soup, thickened with a slurry of flour and water.
No soup stock needed, just water. I always worry about a bland soup when no stock is used, but here there is no lack of flavor. A pound of stewing meat, rounded out by lentils and beans (I used garbanzos rather than the recommended dried favas). Perfect comfort food, satisfying, flavorful. I only wish that I’d had some preserved lemons on hand for the finishing touch.
Harira Soup (adapted from David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs)
- 2T olive oil
- 1 lb stewing lamb cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1/2t crumbled saffron
- 1t ginger
- 1t cinnamon
- 1t turmeric
- 1t pepper
- 2t powdered hot chile
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1c dried garbanzos, soaked overnight
- 1c red lentils
- 12 c water
- one 28 ounce can tomatoes (or 6 fresh)
- 1/4c dried parsley (1 c fresh)
- 1/4c dried cilantro (1c fresh)
- 1/3c all-purpose flour
Heat the oil and brown the meat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the saffron, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, ground chile, and garlic, and cook for two minutes. Add the beans, lentils, and 11c of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for an hour and a half. Add the drained canned tomatoes, parsley, and cilantro. Puree half of the soup and return to the pot. Simmer for another half hour (or longer). The soup should cook for a minimum of two hours, but is enhanced by longer cooking. About ten minutes before serving, whisk the flour into the remaining cup of water, and then stir into the soup. Simmer for another ten minutes to allow the flour-water mixture to thicken the broth. Serve garnished with lemon and cilantro (if using fresh).