|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||15%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 24mg||119%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Harira is a classic Moroccan comfort soup made with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, fresh herbs, dried spices, and meat, making it a filling and satisfying dish. Although served year-round, it is particularly popular for breaking the fast during Ramadan. It can be offered as an appetizer or main, depending on the serving size, and is usually served with lemon slices (or lemon juice), crusty bread, figs, and a honey-rosewater flavored pastry called chebakia.
There are many variations on harira, and recipes are often passed down from generation to generation. Some versions feature broken pieces of vermicelli and smen—a preserved butter with a Parmesan-like taste. Harira is typically made with chicken, lamb, or beef, but some variations of this recipe skip the meat to be vegetarian and vegan. Make it gluten free by replacing the vermicelli with rice noodles and skipping the flour.
For this recipe, we use a pressure cooker for a shorter cooking time; to adapt for simmering on the stove, follow the directions for the traditional stockpot method. To make it easier, soak the chickpeas and lentils overnight.
Click Play to See This Classic Moroccan Harira: Tomato, Lentil, and Chickpea Soup Recipe Come Together
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound lamb (or beef or chicken), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and pureed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring)
1 bunch parsley, leaves only, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 large onion, grated
1 handful dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and peeled
1 tablespoon smen
11 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons dried lentils, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed into 1 cup water
2 tablespoons uncooked rice
2 tablespoons broken vermicelli
For Thickening the Soup:
1 cup flour
2 cups water
Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this soup is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking. Before starting, be sure your chickpeas and lentils are soaked, the herbs are cleaned and chopped without any large stems, and the tomatoes are pureed in a blender or food processor. Alternatively, stew the tomatoes and pass them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin.
Brown the Meat
Gather the ingredients.
Heat up the cooking oil in a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker. Add the meat.
Cook for a few minutes, stirring to brown all sides.
Make the Stock
Add the pureed tomatoes, kosher salt, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, celery, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, onion, chickpeas, and smen (if using). Stir and add 3 cups of the water.
Cover tightly and heat over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and release the pressure.
Make the Soup
Add the lentils, tomato paste mixture, and the remaining 8 cups (2 quarts) of water. If at any point there's an oily surface forming on top of the soup, simply skim it off and discard. This can happen because of the meat's fat, if left on.
Have the rice or vermicelli at hand, if using, but don't add yet.
Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking.
If adding rice, cook the soup on pressure for 30 minutes. Release the pressure and add the rice. Cover and cook with pressure for an additional 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
If using vermicelli, cook the soup on pressure for 45 minutes. Release the pressure, and add the vermicelli. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the vermicelli is plump and cooked. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
Make Soup Thickener
While the soup is cooking, make a soup thickener by mixing together the flour and water.
Mix well, but if the mixture is not smooth, pass it through a sieve to remove lumps.
Finish the Soup
Bring the soup to a full simmer. Slowly, and in a thin stream, pour in 1/4 of the flour mixture. Stir constantly and keep the soup simmering so the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom or cooks up in lumps.
Add another 1/4 of the flour thickener. You will notice the soup beginning to thicken when you've used approximately half the flour mixture. The thickness of harira is up to you.
Simmer the thickened soup, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes to cook off the taste of the flour. Remove the soup from the heat, serve, and garnish with some chopped parsley.
Can I Cook the Harira Without a Pressure Cooker?
Yes. Here's how:
Use an 8-quart stockpot. Follow the directions above, but adjust the cooking time as follows:
- In the "Make the Soup" section, partially cover the pot, bring to a simmer, and cook for double the suggested pressure cooker times—either 60 minutes if using rice or 90 minutes if using vermicelli. Watch the level of the liquid and add a little more water if necessary.
- Proceed with thickening the soup according to the recipe, or try the egg thickening method below.
Thickening with Egg
In place of flour and water, 2 or 3 beaten eggs may be used to thicken harira:
- Beat the eggs with 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. Add the eggs in a thin stream to the simmering soup, stirring constantly. You will see some cooked strands of eggs in the soup as it thickens.
Here are some helpful tips to reduce the prep time:
- Process the cilantro, parsley, and celery together in a food processor or blender. Add the peeled and seeded tomatoes and blend until well pureed. Add the onion and process until the onion is reduced to small pieces. Add to the browned meat.
- If you plan to cook harira frequently, it’s helpful to prep large amounts of key ingredients in advance, like soaking, peeling, and then freezing chickpeas, or chopping an ample supply of parsley, cilantro, and celery, freezing them together in batch-sized amounts. Additionally, peeling, seeding, and stewing tomatoes for freezing can reduce prep time.