It’s pretty clear how I’m handling winter this year: lots of big, bold, spicy food. Chili, saffron, ginger, and paprika are on heavy rotation these days, and I’m surviving cold days with hot meals infused with far-away flavours.
The inspiration for this dish came from harira, a spicy Moroccan and Algerian soup that is traditionally eaten during Ramadan. I made it a lot when I first went vegetarian, about 16 years ago, but after adding several more recipes to my repertoire, kind of forgot about it. In the interest of internally thawing out my bod, I thought I would dust off this old favourite and give it a couple updates.
You’ll often see a lot of harira recipes calling for rice or pasta, but I wanted to go the grain-free route on this one, so I pulled out my trusty spiralizer and make noodles out of sweet potatoes! As much as I love “raw noodles” like spiralized zucchini and beet and carrot, let’s face it: beyond their appearance, they aren’t fooling anyone into believing they are pasta. But something really amazing happens when you cook vegetable noodles just a little bit – they actually become rather tender, yielding, and able to absorb other flavours. Sweet potato noodles are definitely a favourite of mine, especially in cooked dishes like this one. They add great texture, and of course, noodle-free oodles of nutrients (try saying that five times).
You don’t have to soak the lentils for this dish, but it will cook faster it you do, plus the lentils themselves will be far more digestible. And of course you can use canned chickpeas instead of cooking them from dried, but because you won’t be blending them up (into hummus, for instance) I promise it’s worth the effort for not-totally-mushy results. If you’ve never tried cooking your own chickpeas from scratch, maybe now is the time to take the plunge! You’ll never go back, I promise.
Spicy Chickpea & Sweet Potato Noodle Soup
1 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch saffron (about 40 threads) soaked in 2 Tbsp. hot water
3 medium onions
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
14 oz / 400ml canned whole tomatoes
6oz / 170g tomato paste (1 small can)
1 ½ cup dried chickpeas OR 3 cups / 500g cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans)
1 cup dried lentils, soaked overnight if possible
1 medium sweet potato
3 slices lemon
5 cups water
½ cup / 20g cilantro, leaves and tender stems only, plus more for garnish
½ cup / 20g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems only, plus more for garnish
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
cold-pressed olive oil and lemon wedges for serving
1. If using dried chickpeas, soak them in pure water overnight with an acidic medium, such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. The next morning, drain and rinse. Place in a large stockpot, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. About 30 minutes into cooking, add about a tablespoon of salt. Drain and rinse.
2. Place saffron threads in a small cup with about 2 tablespoons of recently-boiled water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
3. Peel and dice onions. Heat coconut oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric, ginger, caraway, paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to blend, and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Lower the heat to medium, add onions and salt, stir to coat. Cook until translucent and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes (add a little water to the pot if it becomes dry). Add the steeped saffron liquid, the canned tomatoes (break up any large pieces), tomato paste, chickpeas, lentils, lemon slices and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered until the lentils are tender, 15-25 minutes depending on whether or not you soaked them.
4. While the soup is cooking, make the sweet potato noodles. Scrub the sweet potato well under running water if it is organic, and peel it if it is not. Spiralize the potato if you have a spiralizer, or use a julienne peeler to create long, thin noodle-like strips. Wash the herbs well, spin dry and roughly chop, removing any tough stems.
5. Add the sweet potato noodles and herbs to the pot, stir to incorporate and let simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
6. Ladle out desired amount of hot soup into bowls. Drizzle each serving generously with olive oil and top with more herbs. Serve with a wedge of lemon, and enjoy.
In other news, I’ve added two new recipes to the My New Roots App! If you’re craving a little more in the way of raw, juicy sunshine, here are two brand-new and exclusive smoothie bowls for your pleasure: the Zippy Zucchini Smoothie Bowl and the Plum Dandy Smoothie Bowl. If you have the app already simply update it, and if you don’t, you can download it here.
And this week I’m in Sri Lanka, all thanks to Cinnamon Hotels for kidnapping me from the icy cold and transporting to me to a tropical paradise full of exotic fruits, cerulean 29° ocean water, and annoyingly perfect palm-tree-sunset-white-sand-beach situations. If you don’t want to be jealous, you should probably avoid my Instagram, okay?
Stay cozy out there!
xo, Sarah B