Thursday, January 23, 2014

Moroccan Carrot & Red Lentil Soup with Harissa


Red lentils are one of my favourite types of legume, full of fibre, protein, and iron, they're a near perfect food. Wonderfully versatile, they cook faster than other varieties and can be paired with a multitude of ingredients. This savoury Moroccan-spiced Red Lentil & Carrot Soup recipe is both comforting and delicious, and gets an extra kick from the harissa, a hot chili paste typically associated with Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. A hearty, thick and satisfying low-fat soup, this is the perfect meal to beat off the January winter chills.

Spiced Moroccan Carrot & Red Lentil Soup with Harissa
Serves 4

2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into a small 1/2-inch dice

1 cup split red lentils
1 tbsp harissa
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt, for garnish
Smoked paprika and cumin, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Mix in the carrots, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice, and sauté for about 6-8 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften and the spices become fragrant. Add the lentils, harissa and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the carrots and the lentils are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and purée with an immersion blender or in a blender, until smooth. Return the puréed soup to the pot and stir in the maple syrup, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the soup over medium-low heat, if needed. To serve, ladle the soup into pre-warmed bowls, and garnish with a swirl of yogurt, and a sprinkle of smoked paprika, ground cumin and a flurry of fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with warmed naan bread or Moroccan khboz.