What is Harira?
Harira is to Morocco what dal into India, or greasy Chinese food is to New Yorkers. A familiar favorite, sometimes overshadowed but always there to give you a culinary hug when its snowing outside, you’re depressingly single and all you want to do is read on the couch in your sweatpants. However, unlike greasy Chinese food, Harira is so grounding and healthy that it will actually make you feel better. Delicate spices work their ayurvedic magic on your body and fuel that digestive fire.
It is a favorite among many of the diverse communities of Moroccan, and North Africa at large. Harira is packed with nutrients and plant-based protein, making it an ideal fast-breaker during Ramadan, when it is eaten most days in most households. The soup is light, flavorful and zesty from the fresh lemon juice. No wonder it’s Morocco’s national soup!
This soup is a favorite among many of the diverse communities of Moroccan, and North Africa at large. It is packed with nutrients and plant-based protein, making it an ideal fast-breaker during Ramadan, when it is eaten most days in most households. It is light, flavorful and zesty from the lemon. No wonder it is Morocco's national soup!
- 2 T olive oil extra virgin
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch square ginger minced
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 pinch saffron ground (omit if not available)
- 2 cups fresh tomatoes diced
- 1 425g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup parsley chopped
- 1 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 stalk celery + leaves rinsed
- 2 liters water
- 1 cup (dry) brown lentils rinsed
- 1 cup (dry) red lentils rinsed
- 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
- 115 g (dry) vermicelli noodles broken into 2" pieces
- lemon wedges to garnish
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until tender and paler in color.Add garlic, ginger, paprika, turmeric, cumin, chili, saffron and cinnamon. Stir and cook for two minutes to temper the spices.
Meanwhile, dice the celery stalk and leaves. Add them with the tomatoes, lentils, cilantro, parsley and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 35-40 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent burning. If the mixture looks too thick, add some more water and stir.
When the lentils are soft and tender, add the chickpeas and vermicelli noodles. It may be necessary to add a splash more water here, but the amount will depend on whether you prefer a more liquid soup or a thick stew. It should be thinner than oatmeal, but not watery.
Serve in bowls with generously squeezed lemon and, if desired, lashings of olive oil. Garnish with chopped cilantro, parsley, salt and fresh cracked pepper.
The soup will thicken in the fridge overnight so feel free to reheat with more water, adjusting salt and pepper as needed.
If you liked this recipe, check out my other soup recipes, such as this Herbed Persian Lentil Soup — or try your hand at this Moroccan Stewed Apricot & Sweet Potato Tagine with ‘Neatball’ and Tomato Ragout.
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