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Moroccan harira soup recipe

Moroccan harira soup recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Bean and lentil soup
  • Lentil soup

Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup made with lamb, chickpeas, lentils and rice. Enjoy!

6 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 700g lamb meat, cubed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 500g tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 30 or so large mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 or 3 saffron threads
  • 200g tomato passata or sieved tomatoes
  • 150g uncooked red lentils, rinsed
  • 100g uncooked rice
  • One 200ml glass uncooked chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:1hr30min ›Ready in:1hr45min

  1. Drain and cook the chickpeas in unsalted boiling water for one hour. Drain and reserve.
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat; add lamb and cook for a few minutes to brown on all sides. Stir in onion, tomatoes, coriander, mint, ginger and saffron. Cover with water and simmer uncovered over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato passata; add water until you have about 2cm of liquid above the lamb. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in lentils and continue to simmer for 15 minutes; add the rice and cook for a further 12 minutes.
  5. Once the lentils and rice are cooked add the chickpeas and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper; garnish with fresh coriander or mint leaves.

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Vegan Harira Soup - My Moroccan Aunty's Recipe

One of the best things about having an international family is you get to access their stash of secret recipes, handed down over generations, just so one day they would reach your greedy and appreciative tummy. My uncle married a lovely Moroccan lady who made the most fantastic Harira soup. She shared it with my mum, who naturally made her own adjustments, and now it is a firm family favourite. This soup is really hearty and I often eat it as a stand alone meal, even without bread, as it contains so many veggies and pulses. I use canned chickpeas which is perfectly acceptable when making soups, but prefer to use dry lentils as they don't take long to cook. These days I make it a little less spicy so the little people in our family can eat it too, but if you don't have to worry about spice levels, add some heat to give it a kick. I decided to use veggie stock to make it meat free but my mum prefers to use home made meat stock as she says it gives a deeper earthier flavour. Try it with different stocks and see which one you like best, you can find the recipe for homemade chicken stock here.

As with all soups you can add more of what you love and less of what you don't fancy. Adapting is essential to home cooking and this usually depends on what you have in your store cupboard. Apparently, different regions in Morocco have different versions of Harira soup and each family makes their own adjustments. Keep experimenting and tweaking until you have your perfect version, which you can hand down to your children in the future. In the unlikely situation of there being any left over, you can freeze some to make your own healthy ready meal, perfect for those cold nights when you need an instant warm-me-up.

Jane’s Moroccan harira soup

Easy-to-make Moroccan harira soup can be adapted to make a vegetarian option. Photograph: Jane Jeffes/Jane Jeffes/Recipes for Ramadan

This soup is easy to make but for an even easier version, use tinned tomatoes and tinned chickpeas to avoid soaking overnight. For vegetarians or vegans, as one of my daughters now is, replace the chicken or lamb broth with vegetable stock. Or for extra oomph for carnivores, use the meat and bones of chicken, lamb or beef to strengthen the broth. Either way, it’s heavenly.

250g (1 cup) dry chickpeas, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
2 litres unsalted chicken or lamb stock
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp powdered turmeric
1 tsp dried chillies
1 onion,
finely chopped
125g (half cup) red lentils
1kg of tomatoes,
skinned and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
, finely chopped
, finely chopped

In a large pot, cook the chickpeas in the stock over medium heat for at least two hours, until tender. Don’t add salt or allow the liquid to come off the boil. Add more boiling water to maintain the liquid volume if needed.

When the chickpeas are perfectly soft, stir in the lentils, onion, tomatoes and spices, season with salt and pepper, bring back to the boil and simmer for another 30 minutes until the lentils are mushy and the soup is satisfyingly thick. Finish with a swirl of olive oil and a generous handful of chopped parsley and coriander.

Serve the soup in deep bowls, with lemon quarters for squeezing and a bowl of red dates “to make the heart glad”.

The Shahrouk sisters (2017 winners of Channel Nine’s Food Fight) also have a family recipe for lentil soup. Theirs has been passed down through their Lebanese family for generations.

Next week, they’ll share their family recipe for fattah, which makes a great weekend breakfast for those who aren’t fasting.

In the meantime, if you’ve never been to an iftar – or if you have – do check out the website, try the recipes, discover new people, get a taste of places you may not have visited.

And if you have a family recipe that you’d like to share, one that unlocks family stories and family history, share it here.

Guardian Australia will be publishing a recipe from Recipes for Ramadan every Saturday until 8 May, the weekend before Eid. You can find more recipes on the Recipes for Ramadan website and follow the project on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.

Recipe Collection

Related: appetizers, Israel & Middle East, kid-friendly, low-fat, pareve, pareve with meat option, Recipe of the week, soups, vegan, vegetables & legumes

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: 16–20 servings

User Rating:

The flavors for this traditional Moroccan favorite originated with Michael Medina’s mother and grandmother, for use at his Distrikt Bistro and The Kosher Kitchen Catering Co. This exact recipe, however, was developed by Avi Harouch, Medina’s chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Harira is usually made with beef broth, but this vegetarian version appeals to even more people and can be served with dairy meals and to vegetarians. Don’t be put off by the quantity it makes – this soup is a great one for a crowd or freezing in serving-sized portions ready to warm you up after a hard day. If you still want to make less, just use your math skills to reduce the ingredient quantities, keeping in mind that all that really matters is how it tastes to you in the end.

What to serve with Harira Soup?

For another fantastic Moroccan soup, be sure to check out Moroccan Chorba.

What soup recipes do you have? Have they been handed down through the family? Please share:)

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Jane’s Moroccan Harira Soup

“I’ve been thinking about Recipes for Ramadan for a long time. Maybe since I first travelled to India as a student and my eyes were opened to many things including the relationship between food and culture and faith and geography and history.”

It seemed then, as now, that so often the most intimate opportunity to get to know someone was over food, sitting together and sharing stories. I worked regularly in India for a while and imagined if my husband and I moved from London, it would be to India. Instead it was Sydney.

I wasn’t convinced Australia offered the same rich adventure but having spent most of my working life in broadcasting and celebrating the diversity of a modern multicultural democracy, I was drawn to do the same here.

The first short film I made was for the Red Cross and NSW Law Week. Called Izeta’s Story, it told the story of Izeta and Fahir separated for three years during the war in the former Yuogslavia, Izeta with their youngest son, Fahir with their oldest boy.

It was harrowing and an honour that they shared it with me while we drank thick Bosnian coffee and ate Izeta’s homemade baclava in their new home in Western Sydney. A special bond remains – and still nobody makes baclava like Izeta.

Later, making a feature length documentary called Silma’s School, I was privileged to spend the best part of a year with the teachers, students and community at Noor al Houda in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield. It was there, at HSC time, that I experienced my first Ramadan, my first Iftar dinner, my first fattoush and the best hummus.

Since then, I’ve made many Muslim friends, some long standing, some more fleeting, and I’ve been lucky to be invited to many many iftar dinners, big and small, including on several occasions, MC-ing iftars for the Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed.

This year with COVID-19 and social distancing, I’ll really miss those iftars so an idea I first conceived as a TV series and a book has taken flight as a community project with the involvement of Amity College, Unity Grammar, Together for Humanity, the Gaza Children’s Fund, Hazen Agency as production partners and AMUST as a community media partner.

It’s been a tight turnaround but here we are, on the first day of Ramadan 2020 and the website and social media is live, sharing recipes and stories each day to celebrate the rich diversity of Australian-Muslim culture, heritage and food from almost every corner of the world, and to offer a kind of virtual invitation to break the fast, try others’ recipes and hear others’ stories.

I’m so happy that friends I’ve made over the years want to contribute – from today’s students and teachers to well-known public figures, community leaders, politicians… some like Izeta, Silma, Mehar and Maha now grandmothers.

My sadness is that the Mufti is in isolation at home when normally in Ramadan he would join people for breakfast before dawn and to break the fast in the evening. He loves hosting and will be finding it hard.

He once promised me his ‘secret Ramadan soup recipe’ – served after that first date, a throwback to his upbringing in Egypt and a special feature of the iftars he hosts, bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together.

We haven’t managed to smuggle his soup recipe out so I offer my own recipe for the first Ramadan soup I ever made – and dedicate it to him this Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak.

Vegan Moroccan Harira Soup

Alright guys, I’m not going to lie. I’m kind of over Ramadan this year.

Before you go judging me, hear me out. Yes, time spent with family and loved ones is indeed priceless, and the slower pace is a refreshingly welcome change, but I’ve simply had it with the perpetual exhaustion and energy drain.

The issue with having Ramadan in the summer (aside from the sweltering desert heat) is that the later sunset time means an after-hours social life that extends well into the work-week, leaving you sleep deprived, grumpy and, in my case, hangry. Let the record show that I am 80 years old, and not a fan of staying up till 3 AM on the regular.

In any case, in the spirit of the holy month I have vowed to remain positive and gracious. Let’s focus on the things that make a day without food and water truly worthwhile.

Like a bowl full of piping-hot vegan Moroccan-style Harira soup.

I have long been a fan of Harira – a traditional Moroccan mainstay soup consisting of pulses, vegetables, a melange of fragrant spices and often some meat or chicken. A Moroccan family friend and neighbour used to bring us some daily during Ramadan when I was little, and I remember lapping up every last spoonful with pleasure.

More recently though, it had been years since I’d had it. It always seemed to daunting to attempt at home and was pretty much never vegan-friendly at restaurants or supermarkets (I’m looking at you, Tesco’s Finest soups). It was only when a good friend brought some of her mother’s mouth wateringly delicious rendition to a weekend potluck iftar that I remembered how much I was missing out on.

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Moroccan Harira Soup

Morocco is a very interesting and unique country from the cultural point of view. While geographically it is African, culturally it is strongly influenced by Europe due to its proximity to this continent. Of course despite the influence it's still not like other European countries at all, Arabic traditions are still fundamental there. You could say that Morocco is a melting pot of Arabic, European, African and Berber ( ethnic group indigenous to North Africa ) cultures. It makes their food exciting too! If you want to get a taste of Moroccan cuisine, start from the Harira Soup. It's probably the most famous and best-loved Moroccan soup and I can understand why!

Every Moroccan housewife has her own recipe of this aromatic soup. However there are ingredients that you can find in every single one of them. By the way, I adapted my recipe from the wonderful (probably the best in my humble opinion) Moroccan cuisine cookbook "Morocco: A Culinary Journey" by Jeff Koehler. Recommended!

Usually Harira soup combines meat (beef, lamb or chicken can be used), plenty of tomatoes, chickpeas, celery, and a few herbs and spices. Moroccans love spices! For this recipe ground cinnamon and ground ginger are used. These two are the frequent guests in the cuisine of this beautiful country. You can clearly taste them in this soup and they really make a difference. I would say that cinnamon and ginger add this exotic taste to it!

Harira soup is eaten all year long but is especially popular during Ramadan month, when Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. This dish is traditionally used by Moroccans to break the fast every night during this holy month. The soup itself is really hearty and filling. It also has that velvety consistency, which is achieved by adding flour mixed with water. Love it! Harira is served with lemon wedges and accompanied by dates and figs. Traditionally, Moroccan honeyed pastries are also served with this soup. If you have them - great!

If you loved this one, try this Mexican beef and bacon soup I made some time ago. It is amazing!


400g lamb neck, boneless fillet or lamb shoulder (cut into 3cm cubes)

1 red onion, coarsely grated

2 celery stalks, cut into 1cm cubes

2 tsp each ground turmeric, ginger and cinnamon

1 large pinch saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp water

½ bunch each parsley and coriander, finely chopped, including stalks

800g can chopped tomatoes

750ml chicken stock (check gluten-free if required)

75g dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight, rinsed and drained

55g dried green lentils, rinsed and drained

Moroccan harira soup with chicken

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  • 10 sprigs fresh coriander, leaves only, plus extra for garnishing
  • 120 g leeks (white part only), cut into pieces
  • 100 g celery stalks, cut into pieces
  • 100 g carrots, cut into pieces
  • 30 g olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 - 3 tbsp harissa, to taste (see Tips)
  • 400 g water
  • 600 g tomatoes, cut into pieces (2 cm - see Tips)
  • 90 g dried green lentils (see Tips)
  • 2 tsp Chicken stock paste (see Tips)
  • 20 g raw sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 skinless chicken thigh fillets (approx. 400 g), cut into pieces (2 cm)
  • natural yoghurt, to serve
  • toast, to serve