A Taste of Morocco in Harira Soup

Sometimes my creativity takes me out of the studio and into the kitchen. So how about we go from Mayne Island to Morocco?

A few years ago I found the most delicious Moroccan soup in one of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks. This Harira soup, in its many variations, is usually eaten to break the fast in the evening meal during the Muslim time of Ramadan which will begin on or close to July 20th in 2012. Just the smell of this fragrant soup being prepared has me smiling with satisfaction and delight. It is a great addition any time of the year to inspire freshness and renewal.

I have made some adaption to the recipe, of course – as any creative person might.

Terrill’s Taste of Morocco Harira Soup

1 cup chopped onions

4 cups vegetable Stock

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds or a bit of fresh fennel

1 large table-spoon finely chopped fresh ginger

A tiny pinch of cayenne

3 or 4 peeled or unpeeled and chopped carrots

2 finely chopped sticks of celery

3 or 4 medium chopped organic tomatoes

(you can leave the peal on if you like but be careful not to get too much tomato as it can overpower this delicate soup)

3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes washed peeled or unpeeled and chopped soup size

(any firm-meat potato will do as will no potato at all)

A small pinch of saffron soaked in warm water ahead of time to release its goodness

1 small (14 ounce) can of organic lentils

1 small (14 ounce) can of organic chickpeas

A good squeeze of Lemon Juice

A dash of Madeira if you have it

A bit of good black pepper and sea salt to taste (a sprinkle of cherry wood smoked rock sea salt is nice)

A nice clump of fresh cilantro chopped

(a must unless you hate it then use parsley)

Sauté the onions in large a soup pot with a bit of olive oil. Add in spices and ginger. Then add carrots and celery followed by vegetable stock and potatoes and finally the tomatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Now add lentils, chickpeas and saffron. Heat through but do not over cook. The celery will tell you when it is cooked just the right amount for you. Add Madeira, lemon, sea salt and pepper very last.

Serve with fresh cilantro and lemon wedges and a smile. We had crackers too but you could have hard-boiled eggs on the side just as easily.

Please feel free to substitute many items in this recipe while keeping the spices consistent. Small amounts of meat can be added such as beef, lamb or chicken. This time I added a little cabbage and it was a nice addition. I didn’t have enough onions so I used a shallot. Tomatoes are not in season so I used canned tomatoes and so on. But always keep the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, lemon, fresh cilantro and the tiniest pinch of cayenne.


Side note: this is one of the few soups that I make which tastes best on the day it is made. It is a large pot of soup so invite friends.

Today is my daughter Josie’s birthday and I know how much she loves soup and foods that fill her senses with their natural goodness. Happy Birthday Josie!

SPROUT: What foods fill all your senses with their natural goodness?

© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

Stuffed Ambercup Squash with Champagne

The last day of September has arrived. Golden afternoon sun moves into the long shadows of the fir trees outside her window. Leaving the bed with its crumpled woolen throw and Barbara Kingsolver’s Orange Prize The Lacuna, she climbs the shallow steps up to the kitchen and looks at the orange Ambercup squash on the counter. She hadn’t planned to cook this harvest poster vegetable yet but there are shallots in the wicker basket beside it. She muses about the great handfuls of parsley in her kitchen garden. Then there is that beautiful plump sage over by the fence. Of course it will need some thyme and just a bit of rosemary. By now she has put on her oversized apron and garden clogs and is out in the potager gathering the herbs.

“We are having stuffed squash with shallots, apples and pumpkin seeds” she shouts up to where her husband is working on securing another deer fence at the back of the yard.

He straightens up with a grin that reaches right to the back of his soft brown eyes. He knows that she knows that squash is his favourite food. She grins back.

With a fist full of herbs she is back at the kitchen counter. There is only one way to safely take the head off of a squash. It is with a large heavy cleaver. If hitting the cleaver with the back of her hand doesn’t slice the tough hide of the squash, she resorts to using the rubber mallet from the tool shed to pound it through. This method has never failed her. Today no rubber mallet is necessary.

With the insides of the squash composted, she is ready to make the house smell like savory heaven. She is sure there is a garlic clove over in the garlic holder. Yes, there it is. Butter, lots of butter – well, first a little olive oil is drizzled into the well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. The garlic, shallots and herbs are chopped and ready. A few slices of that heavy multi-grain bread filled with seeds cubed will do nicely. Two small this-year Macintosh apples are sliced and added unpeeled. She eats three pieces of their tart flesh before they make it into the mix. Fresh ground nutmeg and some of that fresh ground allspice too.  Now let’s see… a few pumpkin seeds, maybe a handful. Finally some sea salt and pepper ground with wrist snapping vigor.

“That about does it,” she mutters to the kitchen wall.

Hanging up her apron she remembers wine. She has forgotten to buy wine.

Well, there are a couple of small bottles of champagne chilled that she was given by a friend in August for her birthday. Squash with champagne it will be.

Stuffed and the lid pinned on with large tooth picks, she places the squash on an old pie plate with a bit of water in the bottom and a piece of tinfoil loosely over top. The oven has been warmed to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and the timer is set for an hour even though she knows it will likely take a bit longer.

She thinks that maybe she should write out the recipe but what would she say? Seize a medium sized winter squash and a few shallots. Then keep adding ingredients until you find that you have closed the oven door. Done!

Sprout Question: Can you share your creative recipe?

Best of the weekend to you!

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada