Moroccan Ramadan Harira Soup with Purslane and Spices for Summer

by Paula Wolfert


  • Spice Mixture: 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cloves, crushed
  • Pinch of crumbled saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 lamb shoulder chops, bone in, about 1/4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into bite-size cubes, bones reserved
  • 1 cup small brown lentils, preferably
  • a mini lentil such as Spanish pardina, Egyptian, Ethiopian or whole masoordal
  • 1 large fresh onion, cut up coarsely
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 large juicy tomatoes, grated
  • Salt
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley plus 1/2 cup chopped
  • 1 cup short or medium grain rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups (6 ounces) finely chopped, stemmed purslane
  • 2 large eggs
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Garnish: a dash of ground cinnamon, a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, and lemon wedges
Moroccan Ramadan Harira Soup with Purslane and Spices for Summer

Elizabeth Cecil

Combine the spices and mix well, makes 1 tablespoon. Toss the meat with 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture and set aside until ready to cook.

About 3 hours before serving, pick over the lentils, rinse in hot water and soak for 1 hour.

Put the seasoned lamb and the bones in a 5-quart soup pot, and steam, covered, until the meat turns light brown without any added fat. Pour in 8 cups of water and bring to a boil, skim, and then add the onion, cinnamon stick, half the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of the mixed spices, 1 teaspoon salt and parsley sprigs. Return to the boil, skim once again, then simmer, covered for 30 minutes.

Drain the lentils; add to the pot and bring back to a boil, skimming. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for another 45 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and the lamb bones.

Meanwhile rinse the rice and drain. In a second saucepan, combine the rice, remaining spice mixture and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Add the remaining tomato, chopped parsley, cilantro, purslane or chard, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook 5 minutes longer.

In a small bowl beat eggs, 2 tablespoons water, and lemon juice until foamy, about 2 minutes. Carefully add a ladleful of meat broth to the eggs, stirring constantly. Pour the egg mixture into the simmering lentils, being very careful not to curdle the eggs. Immediately pour in the rice and the cooking liquid; stir thoroughly over gentle heat until thickened. Do not cover. Serve hot with a sprinkling of reserved chopped herbs and ground cinnamon.

Makes 3 quarts. Serves 8.

Originally published in Paula’s Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Harper Collins, 1998.