Vegetarian Harira Stew

My husband requested chili last night. This means vegetarian (bean) chili like my mom makes every time we go to Vermont to visit. The objective tonight was something healthy and filling - in response to his elevated cholesterol, and our fatigue from overdoing it the previous night at dinner in Manhattan.

When I went to the pantry, all the cans that I thought were various beans were not. I had assumed that my "bean section" was full - but apparently the hearts of palm, coconut milk and chickpeas had migrated into the empty space. So my husband suggested, "What about that soup we had at Bodouin Tent one time?" (a Middle Eastern restaurant here in Brooklyn). It turns out the soup was Harira, and I have a recipe for that... and all the ingredients!

Vegetarian Harira is extremely healthy. There's nothing remotely bad about it, except maybe the salt. Chickpeas and lentils provide tons of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The various spices have many positive health effects, and add deep, rich flavor. And tomatoes may be the biggest asset of all, with all their vitamins, folic acid and cancer-fighting lycopene.

This stew is best served with flatbread, but I only had sourdough rolls - which are the least healthy component of tonight's meal. I also served a simple salad of avocado with lime and salt for another health boost that helps lower bad cholesterol. All in all, the stew was a success. It was richly flavored, filling and healthy. This ought to balance out all the unhealthy choices of the day before!

2 small onion , quartered
2 T olive oil
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cardamom
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
3 C Vegetable stock
1 14oz can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
3/4 C green or brown (French) lentils- rinsed
1 28oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
½ C cilantro

  1. Roast the onions, drizzled with a little olive oil, on a sheet pan at 425F for 15 minutes. Chop and set aside.
  2. In a stock pot, heat 2T olive oil and sauté celery 5 minutes, until tender. Add onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper 2 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  3. Add chickpeas and lentils. Cook over medium-low heat 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Adjust seasoning as needed and add cilantro immediately before serving.


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