Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eat: Harira Recipe

<NOTE: My spell check is not working so bear with me until I can sift through my typos!!>

The weather has taken a turn. It's getting darker much earlier than it use to and the temperature has dropped significantly. Cold, nap-enducing rain seems to have taken over, weekend after weekend. I know that its October and we are offically in autumn...yes, yes, that's how Autumn works, I know. But still...the part that baffles me is how did we go from 30 celcius, tank tops and shorts to 4 celcius, coats and scarves? Where did the sunny, foliage filled days of 15 celcius, jeans and sweaters go? I remember we use to have them, why else do I have all these mid weight sweaters and coats designed for such spring and autumn weather? I realize it's a matter of perception on my part but I seem to have missed the transition period. I skipped right over a slew of fall clothing for warmer, winter items. I have already wore tights and in my mind that makes it offical; winter is coming! (GoT reference anyone? You're welcome!)

During this time of year, I become even more of an homebody than normal. I read more, watch more movies and definitely cook more. This cocooning has already started; I think my boyfriend and I have cooked more in the last month than we have in the last 6 months. It helps that I really love the food associated with this time of year. My favourite recipes come out; hearty rib sticking recipes involving seasonal goodies like apple and pumpkin. And soup!! How I love a homemade soup. I was thrilled earlier this week when we decided that the weather was just right to make my first batch of harira.

For those uninitated, Harira is a Moroccan soup, typically used to break fast during Ramadan. I found this recipe on Epicurious years ago, and have been making it ever since. There doesn't seem to be one, true harira recipe, and I have never made the recipe the exact same way twice, but almost every recipe and photo I have seen looks amazing. I won't write out the recipe here, I really think the epicurious one is a great place to start but I will add these notes, becuase I think these details made a really delicious soup that much better:

  • Use vermicelli rather than rice. I prefer the different texture it adds; I break up the vermicelli in tiny pieces (this can be messy but worth it). Use only 1/3 of a typical vermicelli package or you run the risk of soaking up all of the liquid into the noodles

  • You can avoid meat altogether. I skip the chicken addition everytime and I don't even notice the lack of flavour. I promise this recipe has flavour without it. I used Vegetable stock during my veggie days and it is chock full of tastiness.

  • Add 1/4 tsp of cayenne. Why not?

  • Add Ras el Hanout if you have it, about 2 teaspoons. It has so many morocaan seasonings, it really adds that extra depth.

  • Add tumeric, fennel seed and mustard seed. Again, I did it just because I felt like it. You could do without it, but if you have it, why not.

  • Defintiely use fresh cilantro and parsley, dry just won't cut it here.

  • I don't love how this soup freezes/thaws, so I recommend eating it rather than freezing the leftovers. The flavour deepens as the days pass.
 I swear this one is a keeper. If anyone tries it, please let me know how you liked it, or what modifications you made. I am planning on trying a lamb version of it this year and I'm curious to taste the results.

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