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Harira – Moroccan Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup

April 14, 2012

By now, it’s no secret that I love soup. This soup, Harira, represents everything I think a good soup should be… filling, good for you, hearty, unique. I first had it for lunch one Sunday afternoon when a family from the church where I worked invited me over for dinner. The family had a lovely tradition of eating a different soup every Sunday. Great idea… I might try that some year. Although, since I work as a pastor, Sunday isn’t the best day for cooking. I digress. I had this harira over 5 years ago, with a family I only ate with once, and I still remember it. I think it speaks to the power of hospitality, the power of good food, the power of soup shared together. As I have mentioned before, my husband is notoriously wimpy when it comes to spicy (as in spicy hot) foods, so when I cook for the both of us, I don’t add anything spicy. This, however, would be delicious with a little heat. As it is, though, there are plenty of warm, interesting spices to keep it delicious.

This particular version is a combination of this version from the Splendid Table, and this version from Priya. Each version had elements that I wanted or needed. I combined the two using the ingredients I had and wanted to use and the techniques I thought would work best. I doubled their recipes to make a big fat pot of soup and took half to a neighbor. (I think this is a good practice, in general, when making soup and other food that is inexpensive to make. If you’re making it anyway, why not make a lot and freeze some or share the joy?) However, if you’re not interested in a huge pot of soup, or if you need to make a simple 4 servings, this recipe is easily halved. As is, it will make 10 generous servings.

Splendid Table’s recipe suggests serving with a variety of exciting garnishes such as figs, filo with nuts and honey. Sounds good to me, especially for a dinner party. I opted to garnish with a squeeze of lemon only, and it was delicious.

Harira – Morrocan Soup


2 TBS Butter / 2 TBS Olive Oil  (or 4 TBS of either)

2 Medium onions, chopped

2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 cup cilantro, chopped (cilantro haters, use all parsley)

2tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup dried red lentils

3/4 cup rice

1 28 oz can tomatoes and their liquid, pureed

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed

4 TBS tomato paste

2 quarts low sodium broth (I used chicken)

1 quart water

Salt and Pepper


1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, parsley and cilantro. Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are soft (about 8 minutes)

2. Add spices (turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger) and cook for another 30 seconds – 1 minute to awaken the spices.

3. Immediately broth and water to keep spices from scorching

4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, rice, and lentils. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a vigorous simmer

5. Let simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until the lentils and rice are tender and the lentils begin to break down. (Taste for salt 1/2 way through this cooking time and add as needed)

6. Add chickpeas and heat through, another 10-15 minutes

7. Serve with lemon, extra cilantro and parsley, figs, or other garnishes as desired.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2012 12:49 pm

    Traci, what do you suggest if we don’t have tomato paste…

  2. April 16, 2012 7:11 pm

    Hi Mamie! I would say just leave it out. One of the versions I used to make the recipe from didn’t have it at all. I would maybe cut back a little on the cinnamon if there was no tomato paste to balance it out.


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