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Harira Soup

1 cup (1/2 pound) whole dried fava beans
1 bay leaf, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 pounds lamb shoulder chops, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 threads Spanish saffron, crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
10 to 12 tomatoes, peeled and seeded (about 3 pounds)
30 parsley sprigs
15 cilantro sprigs
1 cup lentils, soaked for 1 hour in cold water and drained
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup crushed vermicelli, orzo or acini di pepe
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

Rinse and pick over fava beans, then soak overnight in water to
cover. To quick-soak: Place beans in large soup pot and add 10
cups hot water and 1 bay leaf. Bring water to a rolling boil for
3 minutes. Turn off heat and soak beans for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The
older the beans, the longer they will take to cook. Squeeze each
fava bean between your thumb and forefinger to remove skin. Set
beans aside.

In large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat oil and fry onions
and meat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, 4 to 5
minutes. Add saffron, turmeric, ginger and 8 cups water. Cover
and bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add fava
beans and cook, covered, until beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours
depending on age of beans.

Coarsely chop together tomatoes, parsley and cilantro sprigs. Add
tomato mixture, lentils, pepper, cinnamon and salt to taste. Cover
and cook until lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil for pasta. Add pasta and
cook until soft, 5 to 6 minutes.

Drain and stir into soup. Taste and add salt to taste and adjust
pepper. When soup is heated through, ladle harira into individual
soup bowls. Top with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with
lemon wedges. 8 servings.

Note: Substitute orzo or the tiny soup pasta called acini di pepe
for the crushed vermicelli, if you prefer.


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