Moosewood’s Harira

We’ve been eating this about every week for several months now.  I just noted a recommendation that all of the vegetables will taste better if roasted before combined with any liquid, but find this recipe so wonderfully easy that I hesitate to add an extra step.  I don’t hesitate, however, to show you the final step.  Behold, squeezed Meyer lemons!

lemons worth the squeeze

The Moosewood Collective in Ithaca, New York, has published several cookbooks.  Many of my rowers at Dartmouth cooked from them–those SNAGs! Many of them knitted, too, and then spent the winter bundled up in burly Fair Isles sweaters and lumpy socks.  Ah, college boys.

The first Moosewood book I purchased was The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, but I’ve not made much from it.  I did make the title recipe for a pot-luck, but my little broccoli trees dried out too fast.  Not so enchanting.

I scooped up Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, and find I go back again and again to several of the soup recipes.  Harira is a North African stew that absolutely fills your house with a delicious, holiday-esque warm aroma.

I altered the recipe because, having finally consumed our gargantuan stash of lentils, we had none on hand.  I used a 14 oz. can of hominy.  Often, if I have sweet potatoes, I use them instead of or in addition to the regular potatoes.  This recipe supports a wide variety of substitutions.

I don’t always measure when it comes to recipes like this, so the amount in parentheses after the official ingredient quantity is my substitution.

Moosewood’s Harira

1 c. chopped onion (1 medium or large onion)
4 c. vegetable broth (if I know no vegetarians are coming, I’ve used chicken)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I often up to 1 TBS.)
1 tsp. tumeric (I often up to 1 TBS.)
1 TBS. fresh ginger (or powdered ginger, or a mix of both)
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (take it easy unless you want epic heat)
1 c. peeled and diced carrots (I often do almost 2 cups)
1 c. diced celery (again, I eyeball and use 2-3-4 stalks)
1 1/2 c. diced potatoes (2 potatoes, medium-sized)
pinch of saffron (makes the color brighter, but I rarely have it on hand)
1 c. cooked lentils
1 c. drained, cooked chickpeas (or a 14 oz. can, drained)
1-2 TBS. chopped cilantro (as many usable leaves as I can get from a bunch, I use)
1 TBS. fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste (I’m notorious for leaving this out altogether)

  1. Simmer the onions in one cup/one quarter of the broth for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the spices in a small bowl, then mix in 2-3 TBS of the hot onion broth to make a paste.  (Inhale deeply to enjoy the incredible scent of the heated spices!)
  3. Stir the paste into the pot along with the carrots, celery, and remainder of the broth.  (You may want to rinse out the spice paste bowl with the broth so you get every last pinch of paste.)
  4. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover, simmering for 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes and potatoes, bring back to a boil, and cover again, simmering for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  6. Crumble in the saffron, if you are using it.
  7. Stir in the lentils (or hominy or whatever sub), chickpeas, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  8. Keep warm or re-heat to serve.  Add a lemon wedge if you want a nice touch.

Onions simmering in the brothThe onions, simmering and softening.

Harira Spices

The spices, getting acquainted.


I do use the dreaded “baby” carrots at times.

Self-portrait with spice paste

Self-portrait with spice paste.  So Velásquez.

In go the first round of veggies

In go the first round of veggies.
Added to the onions, this becomes
the holy trinity of soup, mirepoix.


Sure, you can get the fancy Italian tomatoes …

Drained but not rinsed

I drained the cans, but didn’t rinse.  You can if you wish.

Lemons and cilantro

Used Meyer lemons because that’s what we’ve got on the tree!

all stirred up

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5 Responses to Moosewood’s Harira

  1. Mariana says:

    Please edit your recipe. The recipe calls for 1/8 tsp of cayenne. Also, let people know what kind of tomatoes to use and how many. Thanks for sharing.

    • nonsequiteuse says:

      Sorry to leave out the cayenne – I frequently leave out the spices (intentionally and unintentionally) since my husband and I vary wildly on appropriate levels. On the tomatoes, I go with whatever I’ve got – sometimes chopping up fresh ones if I’ve got them, sometimes using a 14 oz. can or two. And, I’ve been known to leave them out, too. Which I realize doesn’t help if you want a hard and fast recipe, but does help if you are the kind of person who worries that leaving one thing out will ruin the whole recipe. No need to run to the store unless you love tomatoes.

  2. Ron says:

    I prefer no potatos or corn. I must use more tomato because mine is darker. I enjoy using mushrooms and orzo. The best I have ever tried was served as a consumme. I will try it your way and see how we like it.

  3. katiesd says:

    Could you please clarify that the Moosewood recipe does not call for 1 tsp. cayenne, but rather 1/8th. I do not have a problem with you suggesting 1 tsp., but it would be really helpful if you clarified in your recipe that this is not the original spice level. I have made this recipe many times in the past, but haven’t made it in over 3 years. I don’t have my cookbook with me right now, but wanted to make this again, and found your website. After making a double recipe for company, we were a bit shocked at the spice level.

  4. Pingback: Flavored Salts | Dame with a Whisk

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