Moroccan Harira (spicy lentil) Soup

Hearty, flavourful and warming, this lightly spiced soup is the perfect comfort food for winter! Although my recipe is vegetarian, you can add pieces of chicken, lamb or meatballs to the soup. You can also substitute pasta or Freekeh for the rice in the recipe and use red kidney beans for the white. If you are using Harissa paste, cut back on the amount of cayenne pepper, if desired. 

Moroccan Harira (spicy lentil) Soup

1/4 cup dry red lentils
3 cups water
2 whole cloves
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
½ inch ginger
1/2 carrot
1 stick celery
1 small white potato, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp each: ground cinnamon, ground cumin, 
paprika, cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Pinch Saffron 
1 cup each: diced tomatoes, water or broth
1/4 cup each, cooked: Canneleni ( white kidney) beans, chickpeas, rice
1 tbsp each: Harissa paste (optional), lemon juice, chopped fresh cilantro, parsley & mint

Soak red lentils for 30 minutes. Drain and cook them with 3 cups of water and cloves until very tender, about 30 min. Reserve, along with all of the cooking liquid.
Finely chop onions; mince garlic and ginger. Finely chop carrots, celery and potato. 
Warm oil in a soup pot set over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Sauté 5 minutes, then add all vegetables and sauté for another 5 minutes until softened. Add spices, salt and saffron. Sauté 1 minute, then add tomatoes, 1 cup water or broth, cannelini beans, chickpeas, rice, cooked red lentils with cooking liquid and Harissa paste (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until veggies are very tender, about 45 min. Stir occasionally in between. 
Stir in lemon juice and herbs, then ladle soup into individual bowls. 
Serves four