If you are like me you hate wasting food and are always on the lookout for a way to use up leftovers in a new meal with different flavours. So here I introduce to you Moroccan Harira, a wonderful soup made with lots of vegetables and roast lamb leftovers that you can throw into one pot and forget. I love making this soup and it’s become one of our family’s favourites with its intensely middle eastern flavours.
It got me thinking about how fortunate I am to introduce different flavours and cuisines to my boys and have them lapped up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sometimes a battle, as apparently, you need to try kids on new foods at least 10-15 times before they will eat them! My youngest is now 11 years old and I feel fortunate that I haven’t really encountered too much fussy eating and they are mostly open to trying new things.
But why is this the case for my family? I’m sure there are many reasons and today I stumbled upon a theory that resonated with me and how it relates to this easy recipe. I was on my morning walk at the local beach listening to “A Plate to Call Home“, and Poh Ling Yeow was explaining to Gary Mehigan that she could see her great aunt in her hands when she cooked food. It made me think that it’s not just about the cooking though, it’s about who we become because of this influence.
Who do you “see” in your hands? There is so much beauty in this thought isn’t there?
I can see my mum in my hands, every day. Cuddling, cooking, shopping and holding everyone together. I can also see the creative, the artistic and the emotional. One of my fondest memories of growing up was in our childhood home in Canberra, Australia in the 1970’s. Dad was an academic and research scientist, and several of his students and associates were from many of the different embassies. Every so often Dad and Mum would “host” visitors from these embassies to a lavish dinner party at our house.
Mum would spend days in the kitchen, planning the meal and ensuring that every visiting official was catered for with a traditional dish. The night would come and my siblings and I would be required to hand around nibbles, get drinks and participate in polite introductions and conversations. Of course, we all ate the beautiful food when our official duties were over, and the end of the day would see Mum still washing dishes at 3 am with the evening deemed a success.
Her hands were instrumental in bringing love and warmth into our house, they also introduced flavours and experiences to us. Growing up in the 70s most of the meals were “meat and three veg”, but these dinner parties allowed Mum to indulge and piqued her interest in entertaining and the food of different cuisines. She joined a cooking club and they swapped recipes from different countries – Indian; Mexican; Greek; Moroccan; one-pot meals; how to use up leftovers.
I see my hands now. Feeding, loving, nourishing, inviting and making one-pot meals using leftovers, hopefully shaping experiences for my children. This is the most delicious lamb soup made from a leftover roast meal, and a great way to introduce middle eastern flavours. My family loves this soup, and yes I’ve served it at least 15 times. They ask for it now.
Once you make this soup it will become a staple in your house I promise. It’s comforting, smells amazing and is a great way to use up leftovers from a roast lamb meal.
- Leftover roast lamb on bone (remove meat & chop up, reserving for later)
- Leftover roast vegetables (I usually roast up extra knowing I’ll make this later)
- 1/2 butternut pumpkin
- 1 leek
- 3 carrots
- 1/2 head of fennel
- 1/2 head of broccoli
- 1/2 bunch of spinach or kale (thick stems removed) and chopped up
- Leftover gravy & leftover water if you steamed greens to go with roast
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 tspn each of ground cumin, coriander & smoked paprika
- Generous pinch of saffron strands
- Very generous tspn of salt & ground pepper
- 2 x 400g cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 litre of water (or stock)
- 1/4 cup of red lentils
- 1/4 cup of puy lentils
- 1 can of chickpeas
- Fresh coriander, lemon juice for serving
- Plain yoghurt of choice for serving
- Immediately after your roast lamb dinner is finished and the leftovers are cooled :
- Remove meat from bone and chop up, reserving for later
- Tumble bone, leftover gravy, leftover water from steaming, leftover veg all into a giant stock pot
- When you are ready to cook if you didn’t have leftover roast vegetables, not too worry, just chop up the equivalent and add to the pot uncooked. I like to only put in the “harder” root and gourd like vegetables here as they may require more cooking and take longer to break down
- Add in all the herbs and spices (see note below on saffron)
- Top with water or stock (ensure the bones are covered)
- Add in the canned tomatoes
- Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and bubble away for 3 hours
- In the final 30 minutes remove the bones from the soup, add in any greens you may have (ie spinach, kale, broccoli) and any pulses
- Check for seasoning, you might need to add more salt
- Before serving give the soup a good mush with potato masher and add the reserved lamb meat. It should resemble now a thick stew like soup
- Serve with fresh coriander leaves, a squeeze of lemon and top with your favourite plain yoghurt
- If you want to make this soup from scratch you could simply buy some lamb bones and pre-roast them. I’ve done this before when we are hankering for the flavours
- Like many of the recipes I prefer, this is a great way to use up leftovers and is very accommodating to substitutions, I tend to include whatever vegetables are on hand and in need of using up
- Roasting the vegetables is not essential but it undoubtedly adds extra flavour and depth to the soup. The same goes for adding in any gravy you might have leftover. Don’t throw it away, it is liquid gold!
- Saffron is really the essential ingredient here, don’t skimp on it, the real stuff isn’t cheap but a small pinch and it makes all the difference
Keywords: moroccan harira from lamb leftovers