Classic Moroccan Harira: Tomato, Lentil, and Chickpea Soup

Classic Moroccan Harira

The Spruce 

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 105 mins
Total: 2 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
264 Calories
12g Fat
28g Carbs
13g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 264
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 27mg 9%
Sodium 527mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 28g 10%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 24mg 119%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 643mg 14%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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, optional

  • 11 cups water, divided

  • 3 tablespoons dried lentils, soaked overnight

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed into 1 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons uncooked rice, optional

  • 2 tablespoons broken vermicelli

For Thickening the Soup:

  • 1 cup flour

  • 2 cups water

  • Chopped parsley, garnish

Steps to Make It

Brown the Meat

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic Moroccan harira

    The Spruce

  2. Heat up the cooking oil in a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker. Add the meat.

    Meat in a pressure cooker
     The Spruce
  3. Cook for a few minutes, stirring to brown all sides.

    Browning the meat
     The Spruce

Make the Stock

  1. 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.

    Ingredients in the pressure cooker
    The Spruce
  2. 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

  1. 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.

    Lentils and stock
    The Spruce
  2. Have the rice or vermicelli at hand, if using, but don't add yet.

    Vermicelli outside the pot
     The Spruce
  3. 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.

    Covered pressure cooker
    The Spruce

Make Soup Thickener

  1. While the soup is cooking, make a soup thickener by mixing together the flour and water.

    Flour and water
    The Spruce
  2. Mix well, but if the mixture is not smooth, pass it through a sieve to remove lumps.

    Mixed flour and water
    The Spruce

Finish the Soup

  1. 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.

    Adding flour mix to the soup
    The Spruce
  2. 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.

    Soup simmering
    The Spruce
  3. 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. Enjoy.

    Classic Moroccan Harira
    The Spruce

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.

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.