The Jew And The Carrot

Taste Testing Isa's Vegan Harira

By Alix Wall

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Vanessa Rees

My dinner guests thought this would be an excellent stew to have on hand for weeknight dinners at home. It’s savory, hearty and filling and has a “stick-to-the-ribs” kind of quality. Check out my full review of “Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week” here. Cooking Note: I didn’t detect the saffron here, the paprika and cinnamon overpowered it, so I’d save it for another time. And I recommend a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

Harira with Eggplant & Chickpeas

serves 8 to 10
total time: about 45 mins, active time: 20 mins

Harira is a Moroccan noodle soup, served during Ramadan to break the fast. It’s aromatic and slightly spicy, and this version is made thick with eggplant and lentils and studded with a few chickpeas swimming about. Now, if I just invented this soup out of the blue, and someone told me to put noodles in it, I would think we were on a cooking reality show and that someone was trying to sabotage me. But the noodles make it. This soup is a meal on its own. As you can imagine, you might not have the energy to cook a million dishes after fasting. This gets the deed done in one pot. The eggplant really just disintegrates into the soup, to give it a meaty thickness. In traditional harira, lamb is used for that purpose, but, you know.

I had an existential crisis trying to figure out if this recipe should go in the soup or the stew section, and so I went on a spiritual journey and decided, soup. My spiritual journey basically involved looking at fifty other cookbooks to see how they classified it. The soup thickens a lot as it’s left to sit, what with the noodles, so thin it out with water when reheating. The saffron is expensive and thus optional.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 cups vegetable broth
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2–inch chunks
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed (optional)
1 (24–ounce) can crushed tomatoes (fire–roasted are great)
1 (15–ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
4 ounces angel hair pasta

Directions
Preheat a 4-quart soup pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Sauté the onion in the oil with a pinch of salt until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 more minute.

Deglaze the pot with a splash of broth. Add the eggplant, lentils, paprika, cinnamon, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and saffron threads (if desired), along with about 4 cups of the broth. If you add all of the broth it will take a longer time to come to a boil and break down the lentils and eggplant, which is why we’re not adding it all at once.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Keep it at a boil, but lower the heat a bit if it’s boiling too violently. Leave the lid slightly ajar so that steam can escape, and boil for about 20 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. The eggplant should be mostly disintegrated and the lentils should be soft.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, mint, and cilantro and at least 2 more cups of vegetable broth, and more if needed to make it soup-like and not too thick. Bring to a boil, then break the pasta strands into thirds and add to the pot, gently coaxing with a spatula to submerge and separate the strands. Cook until the pasta is soft, then thin out the soup with the remaining broth, if needed. Serve in big bowls, with extra herbs for garnish.

Recipe reprinted from ISA DOES IT Copyright © 2013 by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or printed without permission in writing from the publisher. Reprinted by arrangement with Little, Brown and Company.


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