Harira is one of my favorite Moroccan soups. Harira is a popular soup that is made with tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and spices.
This fragrant soup is often eaten during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as it is a hearty meal that provides sustenance during the long hours of fasting.
During my Ramadan days at home, I used to love the smell of my mom’s Harira simmering on the stove, and the way the house would fill with its warmth and aroma.
Today, I’m sharing my mom’s Harira recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
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What is Harira?
Harira is considered the national soup of Moroccan and it’s usually included in the top 10 dishes to try in Morocco. It’s hearty that is traditionally made with tomatoes (lots of tomatoes), chickpeas, lentils, and aromatic spices.
The soup can also include small cut pieces of meat, such as lamb or chicken. Harira is usually served as a main course in the holy month of Ramadan accompanied by Chebbakia (Moroccan fried sweets)dates.
Harira soup is also a year-round dish that can be served on the side with many other Moroccan dishes like pastilla, tagines, and grilled meat.
Harira health benefits
Harira is not only delicious but it is also packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.
Chickpeas and lentils are both excellent sources of protein and fiber. Harira is also a good source of iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Chickpeas: They are the key ingredient in Harira. They provide thickening and creaminess to the soup but they also give Harira its distinct flavor.
Lentils: Harira would not be Harira without lentils. They also help thicken the soup and give it a nutty flavor.
Fresh herbs: Cilantro, parsley, celery, finely chopped.
Onions: Grated or processed in a food processor. This gives Harira a smooth texture.
Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are the best but you can use canned tomatoes as well.
Seasoning spices: cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, saffron, cinnamon
Meat, chicken, or bones (optional): I like to use lamb. You can also use chicken or beef. If you are using bones make sure to remove any brown bits, as this can make the soup bitter.
Smen: Smen is a type of clarified butter that is used in Moroccan cuisine. You can use butter instead.
Tomato paste: This adds a little bit of sweetness, color, and thickness to Harira.
flour: This is used to thicken the soup. Harira should be thick, not watery.
Unlike many Harira recipes out there, my mom’s Harira recipe is pretty straightforward and not too complicated. The ingredients are simple and easy to find.
- Ingredients to prep
- 100g lentils (soaked for at least 3 hours)
- 100g of chickpeas (soaked overnight and peeled or canned chickpeas)
- 1kg of red ripe tomatoes (Approx 5 large tomatoes)
- 1 large onion grated or processed
- 1 small bunch of celery stalk (without the leaves), cleaned and finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of parsley, cleaned and finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of cilantro, cleaned and finely chopped
- 200g of diced meat or chicken (optional)
- 1tbsp butter (or 1 tbsp smen)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive oil)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp sweet red pepper
- 1 small stick of cinnamon (or 0,5 tsp of powder)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (diluted with 1 cup of water)
- 3 tbsp of vermicelli
- 4 tbsp flour (diluted with 2 cups of water)
- Optional flavorings
- Meat Bones
- Moroccan vermicelli
- Step 0: Preparations
- Soak the chickpeas overnight, the next day peel them.
- Wash the lentils to remove any dirt or debris, and then soak them overnight
- Finely chop the cilantro, parsley, and celery
- Grate the onion
- Dice the meat into small sized cubes
- Step 1: Preparing the Harira stew
In a large presser cooker (4-5 L), combine the following:
- chopped parsley, cilantro, celery,
- butter (Or Smen),
- Spices: pepper, sweet red pepper, salt (just a pinch), cinnamon
- diced meat (if used),
- vegetable oil,
Once combined add enough water to cover the ingredients (approx 2L). Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the chickpeas and lentils are cooked through.
- Step 2: Prepare the tomato sauce
While the soup is cooking, prepare the tomato sauce. In a large skillet, chop the tomato into big pieces and let it cook over medium-high heat.
You don't need to add water, because the tomato will release its own water. Once the tomato has softened, use an immersion blender (or a food processor) to mash it into a smooth sauce.
- Step 3: Add the tomato sauce & tomato paste
Once the chickpeas and the meat are well done, check the level of water in the soup. If necessary, add more water.
For these ingredients, you need at least 2 L of water left before adding the rest of the ingredients. Add the water and bring to a boil.
Now it's time to add the tomato sauce and diluted tomato paste and bring it to a boil.
Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Optional: You can add 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro and parsley for a more fresh flavor to the Harira.
- Step 4: Thicken the Harira
In a small bowl, whisk the flour with cold water until it forms a smooth paste (prepare beforehand). Pour the mixture into the soup while stirring gently.
Simmer for 10 minutes while stirring from time to time. The real consistency of the Harira soup will only be achieved once it boils.
If the Harira is too thick, add more water and simmer for a few more minutes. If it's too watery, add a little more diluted flour.
- Important Tip: Don't stop stirring when pouring the flour mixture otherwise, it will form lumps in the soup.
- Step 5 (Optional) : Add vermicelli
After the Harira has simmered for 10 minutes, add the vermicelli. Simmer for another five minutes or until the vermicelli is cooked.
- Optional: If you want to add a more authentic flavor to your Harira, try adding some saffron at this stage.
And that's it! Harira is now ready to be served. Bon Appétit!
Enjoy your Moroccan Harira soup with some bread on the side. It can be eaten as a main meal or as a starter. Harira is also a great soup to break the fast during Ramadan.