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Harira Moroccan soup

Harira – a vegetarian version of the famous Moroccan soup

  • Author: Julie Cockburn
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


Harira, considered the national soup of Morocco, is a healthy, yet satisfying, combination of tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and pasta. This vegetarian version is generously seasoned with aromatic flavors like saffron, turmeric, and fresh cilantro, and will leave your kitchen scented with the magical aromas of Morocco.


Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 cups (about 16 ounces) diced tomatoes – fresh or canned
  • Generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed between your fingers
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced, about 1/2 cup, plus additional leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, minced, about 1/2 cup, plus additional leaves for garnish
  • 8 cups vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained, or 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, picked over for rocks
  • 1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) vermicelli pasta, or angel hair pasta broken into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten, optional
  • The juice of half a lemon, plus additional wedges of lemon for serving
  • Extra virgin olive oil, and flakey sea salt for garnish
  • Dried dates for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil becomes fragrant and begins to shimmer in the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and a big pinch of salt (Do be mindful of your salt – if your veggie stock is particularly salty, you may just want to add a small pinch at this point. You can always add more later.)[/I] and cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies soften and just begin to brown.
  2. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, cumin, ginger, a generous grind of black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir constantly until everything is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes, along with the saffron, parsley, and cilantro. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the vegetable stock, and stir well.
  5. If using dried and soaked chickpeas, add to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the chickpeas are just tender. If using canned chickpeas, add them to the pot, skip the 25 minutes of cooking, and proceed immediately to the next step.
  6. Stir in the dried red lentils, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the lentils and chickpeas are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot, and add more liquid if it is looking dry or sticky.
  7. Stir in the vermicelli, and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. At this point, the harira should be quite thick and hearty, but not dry or sticky. Add additional liquid if you want a thinner, soupier texture.
  8. Stirring constantly, slowly drizzle in the beaten egg, creating wisps of cooked egg throughout the soup. Remove immediately from the heat.
  9. Stir in the juice of half a lemon, then give the harira a taste, adding additional salt or pepper if needed.
  10. Garnish the harira with cilantro and parsley leaves, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of flakey sea salt. Serve with bowls of lemon wedges and dried dates on the side.


Like most traditional soup recipes, there are about a bazillion versions of harira. Many versions call for meat, especially lamb, but for my recipe, I wanted a lighter, more summery veggie soup. The egg is a commonly added ingredient, and boosts the protein, but can be easily omitted for a vegan soup.

Harira is all about the spices. Use the best quality, freshest spices you can, and ideally grind the cumin and black pepper just before using. Look for saffron threads that are fragrant and deeply colored, and simply crush them lightly between your fingers as you add them to the pot. I can practically guarantee that your house will smell amazing! Savory Spice is my favorite place to purchase high-quality spices. 

Expect the finished texture of your harira to be quite hearty and thick, but not dry or sticky. If you want a thinner, brothy soup, simply add more liquid at the end of cooking.

While serving something sweet – like dried dates – with a savory soup, may seem odd – I recommend you give it a try. It beautifully balances the flavors – tempering some of the sharper spices and bringing out the earthier nuances, and adds that memorable bit of Moroccan magic that we all love so much!

Speaking of serving – in my humble opinion, it is the final touches that take a soup from good to great. Don’t skip the sprinkling of fresh herbs, drizzle of oil, pinch of flakey sea salt, or that last-minute squeeze of lemon juice. It’s these extra little touches at the end that really make this soup sparkle.

  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: Moroccan
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