Morocco is one of my favorite countries to visit. In a world that’s increasingly more global, it feels decidedly, enticingly foreign. I’ve been a few times now, and there’s something truly magical about wandering through the souks, speaking to artisans about the scarves they’ve hand-dyed or the soles they’re hammering into the bottom of a pair of leather sandals.
It’s also a country for the senses, with bright stacks of spices catching your eye everywhere you look; the feel of hot sun beating down on your skin and the dirt and sand; the sound of people shouting to you – “hey lady! Over here, lady! I have the best deals” – and donkeys clip-clopping down the road; the smell of fresh mint and spicy cumin (and often worse – visiting the tanneries, they give you a mint bouquet to hold to your nose, but the gag-inducing odor of the pigeon poop they use to cure the hides with still creeps through). And the taste – oh, the taste. I’ve had some of the best food in my life in Morocco, from the insane night market in Marrakech, where you wander through hundreds of vendors, to fresh pressed orange juice from the juice stands that litter the road in the Atlas Mountains, to a wonderful honeydew soup the riad proprietor served us on a rooftop as the sun went down over Fez.
This soup is based off a different one I had there, and it’s bursting with the flavors of the region, although with (of course) my own healthy twist.
The sweet potato and carrots bring out the earthiness of the red lentils, and the cumin, turmeric, cayenne and ginger will take your nose straight to the spice-stacked souks. They also have amazing health benefits – I’ve often talked about how spices are my favorite superfoods, and these are some of the best of the bunch, teeming with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The herb blend on top represents something I always miss when I travel to Africa: fresh greens. The cilantro and parsley add a bright freshness to the soup; a crumble of almonds on top brings it all together.
It also reheats beautifully; this is a great warming winter soup to make on the weekend and eat throughout the week. The fresh almonds and herbs on top (store the herb drizzle in a separate container) will make it feel fresh and not at all “leftover-y” every time.Print
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1” chunks
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
- 1 cup red lentils
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- Sliced almonds, for garnish
Fresh Herb Compote
- 1/2 cup packed parsley
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-high, then add onions, carrots and sweet potato. Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, or until just beginning to brown, then add cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and cayenne and cook for 2 more minutes, or until spices are fragrant. Add lentils and broth then bring to a boil. Reduce to heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until sweet potatoes can be easily pierced with fork and lentils have expanded. Pulse in food processor or blender until ingredients are combined but still rustic and chunky.
Fresh Herb Compote
- Pulse together all ingredients.
- To serve, spoon compote atop soup, and top with sliced almonds and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 40