Moroccan Lamb Harira Soup and ‘You Need to Rest’

When I was pregnant with Alfie, some well intentioned individuals (and I won’t say who because my in-laws aren’t really that bad) made a magnanimous gesture and suggested that they look after Archie and Arabella for a week during the school holidays as a way of helping me out.

‘You’re pregnant honey-one.  You need to rest.  Are you getting any rest?  Tell Carl you need to rest.  We’ll have the kids up here so you can rest.  Are you getting any rest?  What does the doc say?  Does he say you need to rest?  And pack their razor scooters.  They can ride them up here.  We have good weather on the Sunshine Coast.’

Moroccan Lamb Harira Soup with Quinoa

I told Carl I wasn’t too sure.  ‘I don’t know Carl.  They’ve never looked after them before.   I don’t think they’re up to it.  You know how they like to sleep during the day.  Who will supervise them?  And what about saying they want them to bring the razor scooters.  They’ll be sending them outside so they can rest and then no one will be looking after them.  And it’s so hilly in the hinterland.  Archie could really pick up some speed going down those hills.’

‘They’ll be fine’, said Carl, ‘It’s only for a week.  What could go wrong?’

So after much insistence that all would be well, we took them to the airport and sent them to Queensland.  So I could rest.  Except I was anxious because some well intentioned people are less functioning than others.

I’d had two days of ‘rest’ sorting out their bedrooms and chucking out everything I knew they’d never miss, when Carl suggested we go out for dinner.  We were sitting in the restaurant waiting for the food to arrive when Carl’s phone rang.  It was the carers reporting in on an accident.  I listened patiently until Carl finished the call.

‘What now?  Was it the razor scooters?  I bet it was the scooters?  And is it Archie?’

‘Yes, it’s Archie.  He’s come off his scooter.’

‘I told you, Carl, I told you…’

‘They told them to go outside and ride their scooters as they needed a rest.  Archie didn’t have any shoes on and he was wearing those jeans that are too long for him so he was going down a hill and he went to move his back foot forward when the hem of his jeans got caught on the back brake bar so that swung around, he hit the kerb at high speed and went over the handlebars’.

‘Is he okay?’

‘He says he’s got a sore arm’.

‘Are they taking him to hospital?’

‘No, they said there would be too long a wait.  They took him to the medical centre and they wanted to x-ray it but the x-ray department was closed’.

‘How long ago did this happen?’

‘It was earlier today.’

‘Why didn’t they call?  And if the x-ray department’s closed, why didn’t they take him to hospital?’

‘They said it would be a long wait so they’ll take him in the morning’.

‘I’ll ring him and find out how he is.  He could have a broken arm.  Where is he now?’

‘You can’t ring him.  He’s in bed.  They gave him a panadol and said he’s fine’.

‘Well they should have phoned us as soon as it happened and asked us what we’d like them to do.  That’s what you do when you’re responsible for someone else’s child.  They’d better take him to the hospital first thing tomorrow’.

The next morning my phone rang and it was Archie.  ‘How are you, Archie?’

And a small little quivering voice came back to me.  ‘Not very well’.

‘Have you been to hospital?’

‘Not yet.  My arm’s really sore’.  I asked him to put me onto his carer.

‘You need to take him to hospital right now.  He sounds terrible.  He’s in a lot of pain’.

‘Dear he’s fine.  We’re just having a wee bit of brekkie then we’ll take him’.

‘You need to go now.  He says he can’t move his arm’.

Quinoa with Spices and Toasted Almonds

A few hours later I had a phone call from the hospital.  They’d x-rayed Archie’s right elbow and it was broken.  They wanted to operate and would I give consent.  I told them if he was having surgery he’d be having it with me in Sydney so I got them to bandage it then phoned the airline and had both of them booked on the next flight.  I met them at the airport and Archie looked shocking.  We went straight to the hospital where Archie was properly examined and found to have not only a fractured elbow but bilateral fractured scaffoids and two fractured toes.  He didn’t need surgery to his elbow so we were sent to the plaster room where he had both wristes put in plaster, his elbow plastered and his toes strapped.  He was supposed to be on crutches to help his toes heal but he couldn’t use them with his arms plastered so hobbled along without them.

And that was it for the ‘rest’.  For the next eight weeks I had to take Archie to hospital to have his plasters changed, to have further x-rays and to have physio.  I’d never had less rest.

During this time I had to make Archie meals he could eat with his wrists in plasters.  Food that could be eaten with a spoon was the best option.

Moroccan soup with a side dish of quinoa

Moroccan Lamb Harira Soup with Quinoa

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is a affordably priced family meal

  • 500g diced lamb
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 100g green lentils
  • 1.2ltr reduced-salt chicken salt or water
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tbspns coriander
  • 100g watercress
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Bring lamb, onion, lentils and stock to the boil in a large saucepan, skimming if necessary.  Add tomatoes, spices, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and simmer, partly covered for 45 mins.

Crush half the chickpeas to a paste with a fork, then add all chickpeas to pan.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until thick.  Add coriander, watercress and lemon juice.  Serve in warm bowls.

Quinoa with Toasted Almonds

  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 tsp each ground ginger, ground cinnamon and ground coriander
  • 2 tbs blanched almonds, toasted, chopped

Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onion and saute until onion is transparent.  Add quinoa and 2 cups of cold water and spices.  Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, then partially cover.  Check after 10 mins and if there’s still some liquid continue to simmer until all liquid has been absorbed.  Fluff with a fork, scatter with nuts and serve with harira.

This recipe has been adapted from a Jill Dupleix recipe in the June 2007 issue of Delicious Magazine.

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  1. Norma Chang says:

    Life is never dull in your household.
    Love the idea of crushing part of the chickpeas. This acts as a delicious thickener, sure is a highly nutritious dish.
    Norma Chang,

  2. Good grief … the best intentions! Obviously, those unnamed caretakers (in-laws) have never lived this down.

  3. Joanne (eats well with others) says:

    Sometimes the most well-intentioned people are just, well. Incompetent. I’m sorry you had to go through all that! But Alfie turned out okay I think. 🙂

  4. Glamorous Glutton says:

    I would have been beside myself!! Great one handed meal, it looks totally delicious. GG

  5. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    Moms always know best and you did in this case, before releasing Archie into the carers’ care. What an experience. I remember when my brother fell putting up a basketball hoop and broke both of his wrists. Not easy on my mom either.

  6. oh my gosh, I don’t think I’m looking forward to having children anymore…i think i’d have a heart attack every day! I’m so glad Archie ended up ok. I think I’m going to be a controlling mom who won’t let anyone near by kids. This mean look superb!

  7. And I’m sure you were very grateful for all the ‘rest’ you got when Archie came back having to take care of the baby as well as all the extra errands and work that taking Archie in required during his convalescence. 🙁

    The lamb stew sounds tasty though the cost is a bit more here in Ontario. 🙂

  8. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    I repeat, “How do we ever get them raised?” And you pregnant at the time–certainly no rest was had. Poor Archie–that’s a long time to be in such pain.

    I generally love Jill Dupleix’s recipes, and this one is no exception. It looks wonderful. I love harirra, but have never made it with quinoa. Thanks!

  9. Jennifer Cullen says:

    So when is your book coming out?? XO

  10. Barb Bamber says:

    Oh, dear, such good intentions, eh? What a panic when our children are injured and we aren’t there to help them. I’m so glad you got him home and taped up.. poor honey!!

  11. I think mg friend it is more restful having your children near you at all times because this attempt for a ‘rest’ did not work out – poor Archie he must have been in so much pain!
    At least he was being fed gorgeous amounts of your delicious cooking 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. Sigh. Charlie, you know you’ve told me this story before, but reading it even knowing what was coming didn’t make it any easier. I know it was ages ago, but I reckon I’d still be cross. xxx

  13. Eva Taylor says:

    This is really one of my favourite soups Charlie. I had it a few times in Morocco. It sounds incredibly delicious.

  14. I love this soup!

    Having family and friends that can help when you need it are good but it sounds like even before the scooter wreck you couldn’t relax and rest. I’m glad you brought him home. You wouldn’t want to send him to the Nambour hospital. 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s where he was Maureen. What is going on there? Utterly useless. Didn’t examine him properly so only discovered one of five fractures and said they had to operate on his elbow and in Sydney they said it was in perfect alignment so only needed a plaster. Scary times for anyone who needs to go to hospital and Nambour is the only option.

  15. I hope they only saw your children at a distance from then on Charlie! Or in photos, I certainly think they should lose any family privileges- forever!
    We’re in a similar situation here as you know, me with both wrists out and my right arm, and hubby with his left hand and arm in plaster. Spoon food its good food, and the Spork has made a big comeback in our household. This week though we really wanted steak, and littlej thought it was hilarious to have to cut up our meat for us! 🙂 We would love a care package of this soup, but I don’t think it would post well…. 🙁

  16. yummychunklet says:

    For me, when someone says I need to rest, it’s the last thing I want to do!

  17. But, Charlie, you never mentioned. Did you get any rest? Good thing you got him back to Sydney.
    This soup sounds wonderful. What a great list of ingredients and spices!

  18. All from good intentions…yikes! Love your quinoa recipe~

  19. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    Oh the poor thing!

    Chunky soups are the only kind I like so I might have to try this one. Yum!

  20. sometimes good intentions doesn’t seem to be good intentions… 🙂 I haven’t made any quinoa yet and I will soon though… at least I have bought a pack already.. so that’s a start.

  21. Frank @ Kraemers Culinary Blog says:

    Wife’s or Mothers are always right. I have learned that a long time ago. Their 7th sense is incredible. – I like the recipe. The lamb looks delicious.

  22. What a way to know learn about a very good’ recipe about lamb harira! I remember my older daughter, age 16 & one of the v first Oz schoolchildren to visit China way back when, managing to make a phonecall back from Xian to say: ‘Mom, I have a 104 degree temp and the bus has gone off and none of them can u’stand English and they don’t even have a proper doctor . . . ‘ Oh, yoicks, that WAS a day and a half!!! [OK: still alive!!]

    • Hi Eha, thanks for your comment. I can imagine that was a worrying time for you. Are you a blogger? I’m trying to find you in the blogosphere but can’t. But if you get back to me with your URL I will come visit you xx

  23. Juliet Batten says:

    It’s so awful when a rest turns out to be an emergency and you end up with more trouble than you started with. The Moroccan soup looks delicious.

  24. Oh my goodness – poor Archie!! Seems like you knew best… And sounds like you didn’t get a very good rest after all that! Looks like a great recipe but I’m finding it hard to focus on it after reading about that terrible accident lol

  25. Archie does get in the woes, poor fellow. He likes falling off moving objects. I would have been a mess if I knew my son was far away and injured.

  26. That must be the worst rest ever Charlie! Poor you and poor Archie. I’m sure he was glad when he could get back to proper meals, but if you gave him dishes like this he’d have been well looked after in the meantime.

  27. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I remember you telling us this story at lunch. Oh dear! No rest at all when a thing like that happens!

  28. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    How did that boy survive his childhood? I suppose you must have forgiven the “carers” by now, but they must have felt terrible, too, when they realized how badly he was hurt.

  29. Ha! so much for rest! Still, if Archie got to eat this gorgeous lamb lentil dish, then it wasn’t all bad.

  30. The Squishy Monster says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco but this might be the thing to satiate me! It looks really hearty with a beautiful spiced edge to it!

  31. Oh my gosh…how Archie hasn’t given you a heart attack yet I don’t know! I think I’d be one giant ball of constant anxiety with all of his adventurousness and accidents. And I know I would have gone bananas in this situation! Mom usually knows best. 😉 I like the Moroccan soup! Definitely soothing. 🙂

  32. That’s wow… I know your in-laws and the people who suggested that you needed rest meant well… but they don’t sound very responsible to me 🙁 poor Archie had to sleep with a broken wrist that’s pretty bad! And to make things even worse you were pregnant and you really do need to rest and don’t need another child to look after that has broken wrists >_< poor you Charlie! So glad it's all over now ;D

  33. You have got to be kidding me? I cannot believe that happened…

  34. That is so irresponsible……sending kids out on their own like that……I too know of someone who did that quite often, and it made me hopping mad. The poor kid would be out on the pram in the sweltering heat….nuff said.

    Poor kiddo, and poor you. Brave one, you Charlie.

  35. Oh, and that soup looks fabulous and very Indian.

  36. Oh my goodness, Charie. How frightening for you, and of course, Archie! Goodness, but I have seen how haggard someone looks from a broken bone that isn’t swiftly taken care of, and he must have been in horrible pain. Your recipes are so good that if I’m ever really sick or injured, I’ll have to get you over here! I’d even be sure you got some rest along the way! 🙂

  37. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    Poor Archie and poor you…no rest at all. But your wonderful soup would certainly make anyone feel better.

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