Back in November we made bouillabaisse for Doctor and the Chef and it reminded me how much I like tomato based stews/soups. So, a few weeks ago when I saw a recipe for Harira, a Moroccan soup, I got way excited. Although I had never eaten it before, I knew we would be well-matched; saffron, ginger, onions, garlic, tomatoes + a handful of north African spices. I'd met my soup. 

By no way do I claim this version to be definitive or truly authentic. There were so many versions that I saw. Some with lentils, many with a little lamb or chicken. More traditionally, a thin pasta is added at the end. I took bits and pieces to make something that would satisfy my particular appetite and preference towards a hearty whole grain variation. I do hope you'll try it! 

serves 4-6 inspired by My New Roots

1 TBS fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
cilantro stems from 1/2 bunch, chopped finely
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
pinch of saffron (about 40 threads), ground in mortar and pestle or soaked in 1 TBS hot water
1 28 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes, broken up with your hands
2 TBS tomato paste
1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup brown basmati rice
1 sweet potato, diced
5 cups water or chicken broth
cilantro leaves, as garnish
extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges
sea salt

Start the chickpeas. Drain and put in medium pot and cover generously with water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook covered until tender, about 1.5 hrs. Add 1/2 tsp salt in the last half hour of cooking time. Drain cooked chickpeas and reserve. 

Coat the bottom of a large 4 or 5 QT soup pot with a generous glug of olive oil. Heat pot to low-medium. Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, cilantro stems and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté for another 5-7 minutes until very soft. Add the turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, chile flakes, saffron and tomato paste. Stir for 1-2 minutes until the paste darkens slightly. Stir in rice and then pour in water and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 20 minutes. 

Add garbanzos and sweet potato. At this point, taste for salt and season as desired. Let simmer another 25 minutes until rice is cooked through and sweet potato is tender. Serve with a wedge of lemon and cilantro leaves.