Harira is our favorite Moroccan soup, but we rarely have the hours it takes to simmer the lamb that's traditionally a part of it. With some trepidation, we developed this vegetarian version--and it knocked our socks off. Top each serving with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped dates for a real Moroccan feel.
In a large pot, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and lentils.
Add the water and tomatoes to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in the cilantro or parsley.
Variations: · Add one-and-a-half cups of diced leftover cooked lamb with the chickpeas.: · Add two cups of shredded cabbage and an additional half cup of water along with the tomatoes.: · Use saffron instead of the turmeric.
Wine Recommendation: What a combination this dish and gewürztraminer will make. The wine's full body will stand up to the soup, and the complex interplay of spices between the wine and soup will keep you fascinated. The wine can be from Washington or Alsace, but it should be dry.