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Black-Eyed Pea Harira

Hearty North African harira is traditionally made with a mix of chickpeas and lentils, tomato, aromatic vegetables and spices. Here, black-eyed peas, the legumes commonly served alongside pork and greens, are a pleasing alternative. Paprika lends a bit of smoky Southern complexity, and the flavor of the finished soup is brightened by lemon juice and fresh herbs. Make this recipe a day ahead to allow time for the flavors to meld.
By / Photography By Katie Farmand | March 01, 2014


Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until it shimmers. Sear chicken thighs on both sides until they are browned and release easily from the bottom of the pot. Remove seared thighs from the pot and set aside.

Add onions, celery and garlic. Add salt and stir. Sweat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spices; stir and cook until aromatic. Add tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to darken. Add canned tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Add seared chicken thighs and drained blackeyed peas to the pot.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until black-eyed peas are cooked through but not mushy.

Uncover, add orzo and simmer another 25 minutes.

Adjust seasoning, adding more kosher salt if necessary. Stir in lemon zest and juice.

Ladle into bowls and serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro and parsley, and lemon wedges.

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  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes plus juice
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • ½ cup dry orzo pasta
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
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