Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I need a second opnion

While the weather outside is not necessarily frightful, it's still nice to have a hearty soup or stew to enjoy on a cold dark knight. A friend of mine on G+ posted a harira recipe that got my attention. Tomatoes, lentils, chick peas, Middle Eastern spices . . . this had Kate written all over it, or so I thought.


Let's get into the ingredients before I give you my take on it.



  • 1/4 pound dried chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 1/2 quarts rich chicken stock
  • 1/4 pound dried green lentils
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Cilantro sprigs, for garnishing
Another attractive thing about this recipe is it's pretty inexpensive, unless you need to refresh your entire spice cabinet. I'm running low on nutmeg, which is normal for this time of year because where there are winter holidays there is nog and I must have my freshly ground nutmeg over eggnog laced with good booze.

Anyway, the only changes I made to the recipe was to put in more chickpeas that strictly called for, and I used chicken tenders. I added additional olive oil to make up for the fat that would have been there had I used thighs. Maybe this was my mistake.

Pick over the chickpeas, cover with cold water, and soak overnight at room temperature. Drain chickpeas and rinse well with cold running water. Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches, and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the onions and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring well. Stir in the chicken stock, lentils, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 1 hour.
Add the rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and return the soup to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, add the cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes.
Ladle into warmed soup bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs. 


The recipe was easy to follow, and everything smelled delicious, but when it all came together, I didn't have that little rush of excitement that told me, "Kate, you did well." It was warming, smelling more of the cinnamon than anything else, but I didn't feel like the chicken had absorbed much of the flavor from the spices and the onions were totally lost.


My sweetie, however, had a different opinion. We've both been a little sick, and he found the stew very enjoyable, and also reasonably easy to digest, which is always a plus when you aren't feeling well.


So, I'd like to throw this out to y'all. If you make this, would you please let me know your opinion? Did you get layers of flavor, did you get a beautiful gestalt? That gestalt is what I look for in a soup or stew, and if it's here, I'd like a road map.


Questions? Comments? A recipe for me to try? I'd love to hear from you!


coming up:  a southern favorite I found myself missing. Stay tuned!

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