Morrocan Lentil Soup

I am embarrassed to admit that the first time I tasted a lentil was about 3 weeks ago but I am more upset  that I have missed out on them for so many years. I never had lentils growing up (not quite in the Eastern European repertoire)  and I think that if my  mother would have tried to serve it to my father he would boycotted her cooking. I mean they don't look that appealing- brownish, greenish little discs that turn water brackish looking but I have now been converted and all from some simple lentil soup my mother in law made me. They may look unappealing but they are delicious and sooo healthy- full of fiber and protein- and in my new lentil craze I have bought about 6 bags of them leaving with me lots of lentil recipes to concoct. First up is this soup- I've made plain old lentil soup a few times and it's great but we are all under the weather now and soup is about all we have any desire to eat so I figured I would make something a little more exotic. I used Harissa in the soup which is a Moroccan chili paste mixture that you can find in any refrigerator section in Israel that added a great undertone of spiciness and of course great flavor. Feel free to add more for more intense flavor and more heat but to me this was the perfect amount. As for the turnips, they have nothing to do with Morocco but I just love them in soup but I'll save my turnip tirade for a different post. Enjoy!

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery chopped ( add the leaves in too they are delicious!)
3 carrots, sliced
2 turnips, diced
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbl Harissa
 1 Tbl cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
5 quarts/liters vegetable or chicken stock
2 1/2 cups green lentils
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent. Add the Harissa and mix in to coat the vegetables and cook another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the chickpeas and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then let the soup simmer for about an hour until the lentils are fully cooked but not falling apart. After half an hour add the chickpeas to the soup and cook till the soup is finished.


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