Best Harira Recipe – Moroccan Tomato Soup with Chickpeas & Lentils
I grew up in Morocco eating the Harira soup pretty regularly. Like most Moroccan families, the Harira – a zesty tomato soup with chickpeas and lentils – was a staple in our weekly menu.
The traditional Harira is seasoned to delight with tangy sparks of ginger, pepper, and plenty of fresh herbs. It is known to be served particularly during Ramadan when it is time to break the fast. It’s likely to be accompanied by Chebakia and other traditional dishes. Ramadan means making a big batch of this soup for the whole family and something is a miss if the soup is not on the table.
Harira ranks high on everyone’s list of favorite Moroccan recipes. Harira means silk in Arabic, referring to the soup’s fine texture, thickened with eggs or a tedouira of flour and water. Yeast might be used, and if so, it will ferment for a few days. My tip for the tedouira is to blend the flour and water ahead of time to ensure it is lump-free when adding it to thicken the soup. I will detail the steps in the recipe below.
This divine soup is well known to locals as it is offered both at home and in restaurants. It is also a top choice of street food. When homemade, it may vary according to how the chef flavors the stock and if meat such as beef, lamb, or chicken is the main ingredient. There is also a vegetarian version. The fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, celery, and onion, and the spices will amaze your palate, no doubt.
The most used filler in Morocco for the Harira is broken vermicelli. Some regions in Morocco use a type of preserved butter, called smen, but it is an optional ingredient. I rarely use it as I can’t find it where I live, but my Harira soup still smells and taste delicious!
To serve your Harira soup like Moroccans, accompany it with a side of dates, Batbout pancakes, or Chebkia pastry.
Additional Tips for Making the Traditional Harira Soup
A skin will form on the soup as it cools. Stir it back into the soup if you like. When reheating the soup, use low to medium or stir frequently so lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pot as they will likely burn.
Before freezing the soup, add the thickener before the rice or vermicelli. Cool it before inserting it into the refrigerator.
Cinnamon can be omitted but many insist on using it – a least a small amount. It’s very subtle and serves to complement the overall flavor of the soup very well.
Lemon wedges are a nice touch on the side. Squeeze a bit into the soup as a condiment. A perfect garnish is a little fresh parsley or cilantro.
It is easy to make gluten-free Harira by substituting cornstarch, tapioca starch, or another flour substitute to thicken the soup at the end of the cooking process.
Easy & Delicious Harira Soup Recipe
- Pressure Cooker (optional)
- 1 cup 1 inch diced beef or chicken optional if you are making a vegan Harira
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup 1 dry brown lentils
- 1 medium onion, finely grated
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato mix, diluted in 1/2 cup of water
- ½ cup short vermicelli
- 1 cup flour mixed with 4 cups of water make sure the mixture is perfectly smooth with no lumps
- 1 or 2 eggs (optional)
- lemon wedges
- In a large cooking pot, add the meat, oil, peeled chickpeas, pre-soaked lentils, grated onion, crushed tomatoes, spices and approximately 8 cups (2 liters) of water.
- Bring to boil, cover and cook on medium heat for 40 minutes or until your lentils are almost cooked.
- Add the tomato mixture, parsley and cilantro. Bring to a boil and cover. Let cook for an additioonal 10 minutes.
- Add the vermicelli and cook for a couple of minutes while mixing the soup.
- Add the flour mixture making sure to mix constantly with a wooden spoon. Make sure no lumps are formed. The soup will thicken after a few minutes. Continue mixing for a 1 or 2 minutes.
- When the soup has tickened. It's done! Serve it ht and garnish with lemon wedges, parsley and cilantro.
- Optional: while the soup is still very hot, you can crack one egg or two and mix whitha wooden spoon. It will make the soup more balanced and add more texture and richness to it.
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