Vegan Harira is made with nourishing ingredients making it the perfect soup for breaking a fast.
Ramadan begins tonight at sundown. It’s strangely early this year, but as ever, it’s 30 days of reflection and prayer, of fasting from dawn to dusk, of returning to yourself and your family, a time to pledge your faith anew.
Tradtionally, the day’s fast is broken with olives and dates, nutrient-dense and native throughout the Middle East and Morocco, followed by a bowl of harira.
After a day of fasting — or any kind of challenge (and we’ve had a few, haven’t we?)— vegan harira is simple, soothing, sustaining, just what your body craves. It’s warming by way of cumin and turmeric, but not spicy hot. Every family has its own recipe. You can make it elegant with a pinch of saffron or ras el hanout, a blend of up to two dozen spices and botanicals, you can make it simple and straightforward. I make a plant-based pot of it. Harira’s variations are endless, governed only by personal taste and availability of fresh ingredients. Seasonal and local is not a new concept. For centuries, that’s all anyone knew.
Harira sustains the body because it’s made with ingredients that are humble but whole, nourishing and recognizable. It sustains the soul because it has a rich cultural and culinary history that goes back centuries. It connects us to each other, This is the real meaning of soul food. It’s food that’s meant to be shared, that lets us know we’re not alone in the universe.
Wishing everyone Ramadan Mubarek, peaceful Ramadan.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 zucchini or yellow squash or a combination chopped
- 2 red peppers chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 28- ounce box diced tomatoes or 2 pounds gorgeous ripe tomatoes
- 1 15- ounce can chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pinch saffron or ras en hanout optional but very nice
- 1 small handful whole wheat vermicelli or angel hair broken into pieces
- 1 tablespoon yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm vegetable broth or water
- juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
- extra lemon wedges for serving if desired
- In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and turmeric. Saute a few minutes, until onion softens and turns golden. Add chopped squash, red pepper and celery.
- Continue cooking, stirring often, for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, broth and saffron or ras en hanout. Reduce heat to medium-low and let harira simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Add broken noodles and dissolved yeast. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving.
- Serve with extra lemon wedges if desired.