Harira Soup, a Spicy Moroccan Soup with Minced Lamb, Lentils and Chickpeas

Hearty, rich and complex in flavour, this soup can be put together in a relatively short time. We were introduced to this Moroccan
delicacy by our friend Helene, one of the best cooks I know. She used to make it with lamb shanks. She would cook them for hours until it would fall apart and then pull them to small pieces. I found a way to make it as tasty and smooth, by using ground lamb. This is a wonderful soup to serve a large group of friends at the table as it is elegant with the addition of the best Saffron of course, from Morocco. Of course, you can make it a vegetarian version by omitting the lamb. I would add a few more vegetables, such as green beans and a few carrot slices. Delicious !
Add the Saffron at the end as it will enrich the soup and give it the right kick at the end.

Serves 4 people generously
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
250 Gr. Ground Lamp
2 Garlic cloves finely chopped
1 Large Onion roughly chopped
2 Celery branches cut in thin slices
1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 Teaspoon Chilli flakes
1 Teaspoon ground Ginger
1 Teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 small can of chopped tomatoes
2 Cups of water
1/2 Cup of Red Lentils
1 Can of chickpeas
1 good pinch of the best Saffron you can find.
Bunch of fresh parsley and coriander
1/2 Lemon

Whilst there are several steps to this recipe, it can be put together quite rapidly.
First, make small balls with the ground lamb, the size of ping pong balls.
In a heavy base saucepan, pour in the olive oil and when hot, cook the meatballs until brown on all sides. Remove them and place in a small bowl. Using the same oil, stir in the garlic and onion and cook until translucent.
Add all the spices and mix well. Cook for a minute or so, until the spices release their oil and flavours come to life.
Add the chopped tomatoes, the water and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender.
Add the meatballs and the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes.
At the last minute, stir in the saffron and cook for another five minutes. Garnish with parsley and coriander.
Add a squeeze of lemon over each bowl and serve hot !

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