A Heart-Healthy Holiday Recipe
Based on harira, or Moroccan-style lentil stews, this dish is packed with fragrant spices that also pack powerful healthy benefits. Cinnamon supports steady blood sugar levels, ginger supports normal blood-clotting, turmeric aids in quelling inflammation, cilantro spurs detoxification, and onions keep high blood pressure at bay—just to name a few of these ingredients' benefits. Also, this recipe will yield a delicious dinner with plenty of leftovers to last through the Kwanzaa holiday.
(Note: Feel free to omit the chicken for a hearty vegetarian option.)
- ¼ pound dried chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup diced onions
- ½ cup diced celery
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and their juices
- 1 (24-ounce) container low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ lb. dried red lentils
- ½ cup long-grain rice
- 1 cup diced carrots
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Pick over the chickpeas, removing damaged ones, and cover with cold water, and soak overnight at room temperature. Drain chickpeas, rinse well with cold running water, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a medium stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches to avoid crowding the pan, and cook until well browned—about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
Add the onions and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger, cumin, turmeric, remaining 1 tsp. pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the tomatoes and their juices. Add in the chicken stock, lentils, and chickpeas, stirring to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
Add the long-grain rice, carrots and the remaining ½ tsp. of salt and return the soup to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 more minutes. Remove the lid, add the chopped cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Serve in bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories 249, Fat 6.5 g, Sodium 225 mg, Carbs 23.5 g, Fiber 6.3 g, Protein 23.9 g