Harira - the beloved Moroccan tomato soup with chickpeas and lentils that's practically a national treasure. One whiff of its rich, comforting aroma, and you'll feel like you've been transported to the colorful streets of Marrakech, where the air is filled with the tantalizing scent of freshly toasted spices and culinary wizardry.
Picture this: a bubbling pot of tomato goodness, simmering away on a stovetop. The vibrant red color of the tomatoes contrasts beautifully with the earthy brown lentils and creamy chickpeas, like a painter's palette come to life. Cumin, coriander, and cinnamon all dance together in perfect harmony, creating a symphony of flavors that make this soup impossible to stop eating.
As you take a spoonful of this heavenly concoction, you'll notice the silky strands of vermicelli noodles mingling with the other ingredients. It's like a party (like an actually really good party) in your mouth - the noodles absorbing and delivering the flavorful broth with every bite. It's no wonder this dish is a staple during Ramadan, when Muslims break their fast with a bowl of this nourishing soup.
Moroccan Harira is the soup that's as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat, and is the perfect addition to my blog's collection of plant-based and halal recipes. It pairs perfectly with my vibrant and fast-to-prepare taboule salad, vegan kofta and tzatziki, and baharat roasted oyster mushroom shawarma. Imagine dipping freshly grilled kuboos (Arabic whole wheat pita bread) into the warm, comforting soup, and finishing off the meal with a sweet and fragrant bite of Persian baklava, dripping with rosewater syrup and cardamom-scented pistachios or pine nut studded irkmik helvasi.
Whip up a batch of Moroccan Harira today and indulge in a bowl of comfort and nourishment. Your taste buds, your body, and your senses will thank you!
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- 🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- 🍅Notable Ingredients in this Recipe
- 🙅♀️🌾How to make gluten-free harira.
- 📖Step-by-step instructions
- 💡Serving Ideas
- 👉Top tip
- ✌️You might really wanna make these too.
- ❤️More freaking veggies you are going to love.
- Moroccan harira (tomato soup with chickpeas and lentils)
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- Comforting and nourishing: This hearty lentil soup is perfect for a cozy night in or for breaking your fast during Ramadan. With its high protein content and low fat content, it's a nourishing meal that will keep you feeling (pleasantly) full and satisfied for hours.
- Vegan and can be made gluten free: For anyone following a vegan diet, this robust chickpea soup is a great option. It's completely free from any animal products or byproducts, so you can enjoy this delicious soup without any ethical concerns. It can be made completely gluten-free simply by using rice vermicelli in place of regular wheat-based vermicelli.
- Halal: As a dish that's traditionally consumed during Ramadan, Moroccan Harira soup is also halal. This makes it a great option for anyone looking for a halal meal that's easy to prepare and bursting with flavor.
- Easy to customize: While the basic recipe for classic Moroccan Harira is already delicious, it's also very easy to customize. You can add your favorite vegetables or adjust the spices or fresh herbs to suit your taste preferences.
🍅Notable Ingredients in this Recipe
Vermicelli: When it comes to choosing the right vermicelli for Moroccan Harira, it's best to use a thin, wheat-based pasta that can hold up well in the soup without getting too mushy or breaking apart. For those who follow a gluten-free diet, rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles are excellent alternatives to wheat-based vermicelli and work just as well in this recipe. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly, as gluten-free noodles tend to cook faster than traditional wheat noodles.
Lentils: When it comes to lentils for Moroccan Harira, there are several options. Brown lentils are the most common and readily available, but you could also use green, black or French lentils for a different texture and flavor. Each type of lentil has its unique qualities and will affect the overall taste and texture of the soup. For example, brown lentils tend to break down and thicken the soup, while green or French lentils hold their shape better and add a slightly firmer texture. No matter which type of lentil you choose, be sure to rinse and sort them thoroughly before adding them to the soup. No one wants to bite into a small pebble…
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a key ingredient in Moroccan Harira and plays an important role in the overall flavor profile of the soup. It adds a warm, sweet, and slightly floral note to the dish, which complements the acidity of the tomatoes and the nuttiness of the lentils. This recipe uses cinnamon alongside other warming spices like ginger and turmeric to create a complex and aromatic blend of flavors. You can either use the ground cinnamon I recommend in the recipe, or break up a cinnamon stick by hand into the soup, removing it before serving.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this page for the complete list of ingredients and their quantities.
These are a few rad ideas to get your twisted, creative mind tweaking this dish to it’s whim:
- Harira with pumpkin and harissa: Add a spoonful of harissa, a North African chili paste to this broth. Add big chunks of fresh pumpkin to the pot when you are cooking the onions, so it has time to become fully tender as the soup cooks. The pumpkin adds a sweet, earthy flavor that pairs perfectly with the spicy harissa.
- Harira with cauliflower and za'atar: This version adds some roasted cauliflower and za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend made from sumac, sesame seeds, and other spices. The result is a deliciously fragrant soup with a crunchy texture from the cauliflower.
- Harira with eggplant and preserved lemon: This variation adds some tangy preserved lemon and meaty eggplant to the soup. It's a delicious twist on the classic recipe that's sure to impress. I like to use roasted or charred stovetop-cooked eggplant to the soup to ensure it’s 100% cooked through. To learn how to cook eggplant on the stovetop, check out my recipe for ensaladang talong that details my whole process for it.
🙅♀️🌾How to make gluten-free harira.
Traditional Moroccan Harira includes vermicelli, which is a type of thin, spaghetti-like pasta. However, for those following a gluten-free diet, several alternative options can be used.
One popular option is to use gluten-free noodles, such as rice noodles or mung bean noodles, which have a similar texture and flavor to vermicelli. Like regular vermicelli, these gluten-free noodles should be crushed into smaller pieces before adding to the cooking soup.
Another alternative is to use gluten-free grains, such as quinoa, millet, or buckwheat, which can be cooked separately and added to the soup. These gluten-free alternatives are a great way to enjoy the delicious flavors and comforting warmth of Moroccan Harira, without worrying about any gluten-related issues.
You wanna see how this yummy thing gets made? I will walk you through the whole process. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
For easy peeling, cut a small 'X' into the bottom of each tomato before boiling.
Bring a small pot of water up to a boil over a high flame and add the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes until the skins start to crack, then drain and allow to cool before peeling and dicing them.
Heat olive oil in a large pressure cooker or stock pot until hot over medium-high heat. Add diced onions, garlic, and celery, and sauté until golden brown and fragrant.
Pour in four cups of water, bring to a boil, and cover. Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes until the vegetable start to fall apart.
When the veggies start really breaking down, and a lot of the water is gone, add the lentils, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and continue cooking until the lentils are tender. Tip: Make sure to rinse the lentils before adding them to the pot.
Add the vermicelli and chickpeas and cook for a few minutes until the vermicelli is just tender.
Serve with herbs and optionally some unsweetened plant-based yogurt.
What a great meal harira is on its own! But you can totally make it the cornerstone of, or accompaniment to a completely plant-based Middle Eastern feast!
Think about serving my Turkish shakshuka, vegan shawarma or seitan kofta with tzatziki on freshly baked kuboos bread next to a cup of this soup. Morrocan classics like msemen and loubia (Moroccan stewed white beans) could be just the ticket!
You can serve some of my cig kofte dripping with tarator (Arabic tahini sauce), or a steaming plate of bulgur pilavi as a little starter to this soup.
A nice simple salad like taboule, or even spicy marinated cucumbers on the side is a nice idea to balance the flavors of the heavily cooked harira to freshen the meal up.
To make a delicious pot of Moroccan Harira, you don't need any fancy equipment. Here are the basics you'll need:
- Soup pot: You'll need a large pot to cook the soup in. A 6-quart (5.5 liter) pot should do the trick, but you can use a bigger pot if you're planning to make a larger batch.
- Cutting board and knife: You'll need a cutting board and a good sharp knife to chop the onions, celery, and carrots.
- Mixing spoon or ladle: You'll need a spoon or ladle to stir the soup as it cooks. Wooden utensils are ideal if you have nonstick cookware, as they won't scratch the bottom of the pot. I use stainless steel pots, and for those, a metal spoon is better. Wood tends to retain flavors so I only recommend ‘em for folks who are cooking in nonstick pots.
- Measuring cups and spoons: To ensure that you're adding the right amount of ingredients, you'll need measuring cups and spoons. Or you can fill up your dad’s old hat with ingredients. Just kidding. Measuring spoons are probably the way to go here…
Now that you've made a big pot of Moroccan Harira, you'll want to store it properly to ensure that it stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible. First things first, let the soup cool to room temperature and transfer it to an airtight container. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to four days.
If you plan to freeze the soup for later, portion it out first, rather than freezing it in one giant container. That way, you can thaw out just what you want for a single meal. Ladle it into individual containers or freezer-safe bags and leave some headroom for expansion. If you plan to have harira on hand for a while, you might want to consider making a triple-size batch to portion and freeze for convenient meals. The soup can be frozen for up to three months.
When you're ready to reheat the soup, there are a few different methods you can use. For stove top, simply pour the soup into a pot and heat it over medium heat until it reaches your desired temperature. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
If you're in a hurry (or just feeling lazy), you can also reheat the soup in the microwave. Make sure to transfer it to a microwave-safe dish first and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or a layer of plastic wrap. Heat it in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until it's heated through.
And there you have it! With these storage and reheating tips, you can enjoy your delicious Moroccan Harira whenever you like. Just be prepared for the possibility that you'll never want to stop eating it - but hey, there are worse problems to have, right?
- Be sure to cook the tomatoes until the skins start to shrivel and crack in places. This will help the tomatoes break down and break down smoothly into the soup. Alternatively, you can use a can of whole peeled tomatoes in place of the fresh tomatoes so that the blanching and peeling has already been taken care of for you.
- If you're using a pressure cooker, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cooking times and pressure settings.
- To get the best flavor, use freshly ground spices. This will make a big difference in the overall taste of the dish.
- Finally, don't forget to taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. This soup can be customized to your liking with a little extra salt, pepper, or spice.
Harira soup is a popular traditional dish during Ramadan in Morocco and other North African countries. This hearty soup is typically served as the first course for breaking the fast (iftar) during Ramadan. It is believed that the soup helps to replenish the body's nutrients and energy after a day of fasting, and the warm and comforting flavors are a welcome treat after a long day of abstaining from food and drink. Additionally, the soup is easy to prepare in large batches, making it ideal for feeding large groups of people during Ramadan gatherings.
Harira is primarily known as a Moroccan soup, but there are some regional variations of the dish within the country. For example, in the southern regions of Morocco, harira is typically made with more spices and herbs than in the northern regions. In addition to the traditional ingredients like lentils, chickpeas, and tomatoes, some variations may include lamb or beef.
You may find similar soups outside of Morocco with different names and variations in other North African and Middle Eastern countries. In Algeria, for example, the soup is called chorba and may be made with lamb or chicken. In Tunisia, it is known as lablabi and is made with chickpeas, bread, and a spiced broth. In Iran, there is a similar soup called ash reshteh, which includes beans, noodles, and herbs. Regardless of the name or variation, these soups share a common thread of comforting, nourishing flavors and ingredients.
Some harira recipes may not be halal if they contain non-halal meat or meat-based broth. Additionally, if the soup is thickened with gelatin or contains any other non-halal animal products (such as Smen, a type of Moroccan preserved butter), it would not be considered halal. It's important to check the ingredients and preparation methods to ensure that the harira recipe follows halal guidelines.
Since this recipe is completely vegan, you don’t have to worry about those issues here!
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These are some of my favey dishes to serve with Harira:
❤️More freaking veggies you are going to love.
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Moroccan harira (tomato soup with chickpeas and lentils)
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 quarts (8 cups) 1x
- Diet: Vegan
With its velvety, aromatically spiced tomato base and hearty lentils, every spoonful is like a hug in a bowl. Grab a spoon, cozy up on the couch, and get ready to soup it up!
4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, small dice
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
⅓ cup brown lentils, French lentils, or beluga lentils
¼ cup broken thin vermicelli
1 can chickpeas, drained
Optional to garnish:
Unsweetened plant-based yogurt
Fresh parsley leaves
Fresh cilantro leaves
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the tomatoes. Cook until the skins start to shrivel and crack in places.
- Drain the tomatoes in a colander and let them cool for ten minutes. Peel off the skins and dice the tomatoes on a cutting board.
- In a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker or stock pot, heat olive oil for 60 seconds over medium-high heat.
- Add diced onions, garlic, and celery, and sauté for four minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Next, add the diced tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, and salt. Continue to sauté and stir for an additional 3 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Add 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes until the contents of the pot are thick and the vegetables have mostly fallen apart.
- Add the lentils, and 6 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil over a high flame, and cook covered for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender
- If you plan to add rice, add it now, and continue cooking over high heat for 15 minutes until the rice is cooked through
- Alternatively, add broken vermicelli, and cook the soup for a few minutes until the vermicelli is tender.
- Stir in the chickpeas, and serve. Optionally garnishing the bowls with vegan yogurt, and fresh herbs.
Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato before blanching them. The skins come off very easily that way!
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 60
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Nice quick easy soup to make, even for the beginner cook. One of those recipes where I always have all the ingredients in the house. I like things spicy, so I added a little extra heat to it, perfect! Tastes as good, if not better the next day.
So simple and so delicious, crowd pleaser and I'd only add that you can cut the liquids by a cup or two each. Can tomatoes may feel like a cheat but it is a time saver that won't make a difference if no one has tried it before by the original method. Plus, the cook time for the first portion can be 20 mins i/o 30. Regardless, make this!