Moroccan Harira

Eddie Aldape, CBF field personnel in Spain 

There’s always room at the Aldapes’ table as Eddie and Macarena open their home and hearts to migrants from North Africa. Your generous gifts to the Offering for Global Missions ensure their long-term presence. #cultivatingbelovedcommunity. Their recipe is Morracan Harira.

Moroccan Harira 

Harira is a zesty tomato, chickpea and lentil soup which is commonly served to break the fast during the month-long observation of Ramadan. It is also one of the favorite soups served in Moroccan homes. Some say that because of the smooth silky texture of the soup, Harira gets its name from the Arabic word for silk  which is “harir.” 


  •       8 oz. lamb, beef or chicken, diced
  •       3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  •       several soup bones (optional)
  •       2 lbs. soft, ripe tomatoes – (about 6 large)
  •       1 handful dry chickpeas, soaked and peeled
  •       2 handfuls dry green or brown lentils
  •       1 large onion, grated
  •       1 stalk celery (with leaves for fresher flavor), chopped
  •       1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  •       1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  •       1 tbsp salt
  •       1 tbsp ginger
  •       1.5 tsp black pepper
  •       1 tsp ground cinnamon – optional (see notes)
  •       1/2 tsp turmeric
  •       3 tbsp tomato paste – combined with 1 or 2 cups water
  •       3 tbsp uncooked vermicelli
  •       1 cup flour combined with 2 cups water
  •       lemon wedges and cilantro (optional) – for garnish



 Prep ingredients in advance:

Soak the chickpeas overnight. The next day, drain and peel them. This is easily done by pressing chickpeas one-by-one between your forefinger and thumb or by rubbing all the chickpeas vigorously in a kitchen towel.

Pick through the lentils to remove any stones and debris and set aside until ready to use. 

Stew the tomatoes then pass them through a food processor to make a puree, discarding the skins and seeds.

Grate the onion or process it to a thick pulp in a food processor.

Wash and finely chop the celery and set aside. Remove and discard large pieces of stem from the parsley and cilantro. Wash the parsley and cilantro and leave to drain thoroughly before chopping finely by hand or in a food processor. (The chopped herbs may be mixed.)

Make the soup:

In a six-quart or larger pressure cooker or stock pot, brown the meat in oil over medium heat. Add the soup bones, peeled chickpeas, pureed tomatoes, grated onion, spices, and three cups (710 ml) of water. Bring to a boil; cover, and cook with medium pressure for 25 minutes (or simmer for 50 to 60 minutes).

Add the lentils, tomato paste mixture, chopped herbs and 8.5 cups (2 liters) water. Bring to a boil and cover.  

Cook the soup with pressure for 45 minutes (or simmer for 90 minutes) before stirring in the broken vermicelli. Continue simmering for a few minutes until the vermicelli is tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Thicken the soup to a silky, cream-like consistency by gradually adding the flour and water mixture, stirring constantly to ensure that it’s well-blended. Use only as much as is needed to make the soup as thick as you like. 

Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. Remove from the heat and serve. 


  • A skin will form on the soup as it cools. This can be stirred and blended back into the soup.
  • When reheating the soup, use medium or low heat and stir frequently to avoid lentils sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
  • Cinnamon is optional and can be omitted. While many Moroccan cooks use it when making harira, not everyone likes it. (On a personal note, I do prefer harira with a small amount of cinnamon as indicated in the recipe.) It’s very subtle and complementary to the overall flavor of the soup when used conservatively.
  • Lemon wedges may be served on the side for those who like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice as a condiment for the soup. If desired, garnish with a little fresh parsley or cilantro.
  • Blending the flour and water ahead of time will help ensure that it’s lump-free when adding it to the soup.

·  To make gluten-free harira,  use cornstarch, tapioca starch or another substitute for the flour to thicken the soup at the end of cooking.