Harira is a tomato-based soup with chickpeas and/or lentils, found throughout Morocco and commonly used during Ramadan to break the daily fast.
The soup is very varied and you might find that there are as many recipes as there are families in Morocco!! After all, it is just soup. Sometimes it is smooth, sometimes chunky, sometimes it may contain broken vermicelli noodles or even rice, sometimes just chickpeas and no lentils and sometimes might be finished off with a spritz of fresh lemon juice. But it will always, always have a silky mouthfeel hence the name Harira which means velvety or smooth in Arabic.
Harira soup is great to make after having made a tagine because any leftovers can be added to the harira.
Making harira soup can be a bit time consuming but there are some shortcuts which I’ll list below.
Use a pressure cooker to cook the soup
Used 200gr tinned (cooked) chickpeas instead of soaking dried ones
Remember this is a soup and therefore any vegetables you fancy or have to hand can be added
Add any leftover tagine for extra oomph (and to use it up)
Replace fresh tomatoes with tinned tomatoes and water. So for this recipe replace 1kg fresh tomatoes with 1 x 450gr tin chopped tomatoes and 1 tin of water or 200gr tomato passata and 3 grated fresh tomatoes.
If you don’t have soup bones, add a low salt beef stock cube (or veggie cube!)….or do both for a great umami hit
Replace 1.5 tsp fresh ginger with 1 tbl ginger powder
If you don’t have parsley, don’t stress but you do need the coriander, sorry!
Serves 5-6 depending on how hungry you are!
|100gr||handful||Chickpeas, dried and soaked overnight|
|3 tbl||Green lentils, dried, picked over & washed|
|3 tbl||Rice/Broken vermicelli, uncooked|
|250gr||Meat, chicken/lamb/beef, 2cm cubes|
|15gr||1 tbl||Tomato paste|
|1kg||6 large||Tomatoes, grated, skins discarded|
|175gr||1 large||Onion, finely chopped|
|1-2 stalks||Celery, chopped|
|4-5 tbl||Parsley, fresh, finely chopped|
|4-5 tbl||Coriander, fresh leaf, finely chopped|
|1.5 tsp||Ginger, fresh, grated (about 1″ root)|
|1 tsp||Cinnamon, ground|
|1.5 tsp||Salt (fine) OR TO TASTE|
|1 tsp||Pepper, black, freshly ground OR TO TASTE|
|1 tbl||Cornflour, slaked with 2-3 tbl water|
|1/2-1 tsp||Cumin, ground, to taste|
Put everything together (including leftover tagine at this stage) in a pressure cooker (I use my IPDUO electric pressure cooker) and cook using HIGH heat for 1-1.5hrs depending on any meat you may have used. The soup is very forgiving so just make sure everything is well cooked.
You may want to have your rice or vermicelli with a bit more “bite”, in which case, hold these back and at once the soup is cooked, add this and continue to simmer the soup until it’s at your preferred texture.
Once the soup is ready, the broth will be thin. Honestly, it’s delicious just like this but harira should be silky or velvety so do try finishing it off for an authentic experience.
Bring the soup to a good simmer, slowly stir in the slaked cornflour a bit at a time, stirring continuously, until the broth is starting to thicken. Stop when you are happy that the broth is “holding” together. Simmer for another 5 minutes to ensure that all the flour is cooked. Some families have this very thick and hearty, if you want to try it like this, double the quantity of cornflour/water.
Just before serving, stir through the ground cumin. This is to taste, so start with 1/2 tsp and work upwards.
Once served in a bowl, try finishing it off with spritz of lemon – traditional in lots of homes and restaurants!
Serve immediately with chunks of fresh bread – buttered if that’s your thing!
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, same method of everything into the pot and simmer covered for 2-3 hours (less if it’s just veggie). You’re aiming for everything to have a soft texture.