How do I make authentic harira

Harira recipe

Harira is a soothing Moroccan soup that features chickpeas, lentils, and lots of deep flavors from harissa paste and toasted spices. Usually the harira soup contains ground beef, but this simple version is vegetarian (and vegan) friendly! Better yet, she mostly uses pantry staples, so it's easy to stock up on supplies ahead of time and prepare this delicious soup whenever the need arises.


Harira is a thick, traditional Moroccan soup, most typically made with lamb or lamb broth, vegetables and legumes. However, as with most traditional dishes, as with most traditional dishes with a long history, there are many different authentic versions with a whole range of ingredients. Some use chicken instead, others boiled eggs, and still others - like this one - are completely vegan-friendly (as long as you forego the optional yogurt topping).

Harira is cooked and enjoyed all year round, but it is most commonly eaten to break the Ramadan fast!


While pretty much everything would have to be made from scratch with the standard method, my version of Harira soup includes a few shortcuts to keep it from being a fussy recipe. Most notably, this recipe uses mostly ingredients that you can keep in your pantry, making it truly a “anytime” meal of sorts!

Here is what you need:

Onion, celery and garlic. These are your flavorings. You can't actually keep them in the pantry (sorry), but chances are you'll have them on hand often!
Cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. Today is not the day to close the spice cabinet. These four spices give the Harira its characteristic warm Moroccan taste.
The salt. I know, "Isn't that one of the other spices above?" So to speak. But I wanted to make a special note about salt, which is often underused by home cooks for things like soup. Since there is a lot of liquid involved, it takes a generous amount of salt to bring out all of those amazing flavors that you work so hard to develop. Make sure to salt your soup several times as you cook it (and season to taste each time before adding more, of course!)
Mashed canned tomatoes. Lots of recipes call for fresh tomatoes, but canned shredded tomatoes (one of the pantry ingredients we talked about) make things easier and give you a lot more control over the thickness of your soup.
Harissa. Harissa is a spice that in some ways can be compared to a North African version of Sriracha. Most of its flavor comes from chili peppers, but it tends not to be excruciatingly spicy and has other earthy, nutty, and even sweet notes to balance the paste. You can usually find it on the international shelf of the grocery store, and it is very easy to store in the refrigerator.
Vegetable broth, broth or water. If you want this recipe to stay completely meat-free, go for one of these options for your liquid ingredients. If that's not a big deal for you, then you can use lamb or chicken broth as well. Whatever you have on hand will work.
Canned dried lentils and chickpeas. This soup is all about the legumes. These two ingredients get silky smooth and creamy when cooked, and they're quite filling and good for you too. And best of all, you can keep it in the pantry for a long time so you can eat this soup whenever you want!
Coriander and lemon wedges. These ingredients give the soup a fresh, tangy taste so it isn't watered down by the heavier, more flavorful components.
(Optional) Greek yogurt and toasted almonds. These toppings, while not exactly traditional, are delicious nonetheless. Greek yogurt is not common in Morocco, but they have raib, which is similarly thick. I like to coat my harira with a little yogurt to tame the heat of the harissa and serve as an additional flavorful, creamy element. Greek yogurt may not be very common in Morocco, but almonds definitely are and when you top your harira with toasted almonds it gets a little crispness which is a nice addition.
You can swap the ingredients here very easily - add meat if you want, add extra vegetables, add some fava beans, use more fresh herbs - you can adjust the ingredients however you want!


I like to cook my Harira on the stove in a large Dutch oven, but you can also cook it in a slow cooker or pressure cooker if you prefer.

To prepare the harira in the pressure cooker, add all the ingredients except for half of the coriander and the garnish. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, or until the lentils are creamy. Sprinkle with the rest of the coriander and serve with the garnishes of your choice.

To prepare Harira in the pressure cooker, fry the flavorings in oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add the spices and continue cooking until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients except for half of the coriander and the garnish. Cover and cook under high pressure for 15 minutes. Solve in a natural way. Sprinkle with the rest of the coriander and serve with the garnishes of your choice.


The harira soup is fantastic on its own, but it's also delicious with pasta (which is common with some versions of the soup), ladled over rice, or - my favorite - served with flatbread to scoop up all the lentils!

Moroccan flatbread is usually called rgaïf (or msemen, when referring to the square variant), but it's hard to find in the U.S. I tend to eat mine with another stir-fry instead: naan.

If you want to make your own naan from scratch to match your harira, here is one of my favorite recipes.


2 tablespoons of oil
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced, plus celery leaves, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (15-ounce) can of mashed tomatoes
1 tablespoon of harissa, plus more for serving
8 cups of vegetable stock or water
1 cup of fresh coriander, chopped, divided
1 cup of lentils
1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained
Kosher salt, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving
Greek yogurt and toasted almonds, on top (optional) (see note)


In a large heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oil is soft. Add the garlic, harissa, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. Keep cooking until fragrant and toasted, about 1 more minute.
Mix in the mashed tomatoes, celery leaves, harissa, broth and half of the coriander seeds and bring to the boil gently. Bring to the boil and continue to cook covered for 15 minutes.
Add the lentils and chickpeas and season with plenty of salt. Cook for another 30 minutes, season to taste and adjust harissa and spices as needed. Keep cooking until the lentils are tender. The soup should thicken, but if it gets too thick add more broth or water as needed. Be sure to add extra salt along with the extra liquid.
Mix with the rest of the coriander and top with the rest of the coriander and serve warm with lemon wedges. Top with Greek yogurt and roasted almonds if desired.

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