Vegetarian Harira

(Adapted from Kitty Morse’s North Africa: The Vegetarian Table)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, sliced

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

20 sprigs cilantro

20 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley

8 threads Spanish saffron, lightly crushed

8 cups water

1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (with their liquid)

1 15-ounce can foul madammas (with their liquid)*

1 teaspoon salt

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ cup broken dried egg noodles or orzo

1 egg, lightly beaten

Juice of 2 lemons (optional)

Lemon wedges

Crusty bread

Heat oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, puree tomatoes, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cilantro, parsley, saffron, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor (you might have to do this in batches). Add to the onions and bring to boiling. Add the water and lentils, cover tightly and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the chickpeas and foul mudammas and bring back up to a low boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, 6-7 minutes. Drop the egg in the soup and stir so it forms strands in the soup. Ladle harira into individual bowls and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

Serves 8.

*Foul madammas are canned fava beans. You can find them in some supermarkets in the Middle Eastern section, as well as in ethnic groceries and specialty food stores.