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Harira Recipe – Moroccan Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Lentils

Harira Recipe – Moroccan Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Lentils

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Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup of tomato, lentils and chickpeas. Wonderfully fragrant with zesty seasoning, it often ranks high on lists of must-try Moroccan foods. It’s a popular offering in Moroccan homes and restaurants, and you can even find it sold as a street food.

The name harira, derived from the Arabic word for silk, makes reference to the texture of the soup after it’s been thickened with either eggs or a tedouira of flour and water. The tedouira (thickener) sometimes includes yeast and may be left to ferment for a day or two.

Although harira is prepared year-round, it’s famously associated with Ramadan, when it’s likely to be served alongside chebakia and other traditional foods to break the fast. This tradition is so ingrained that many Moroccans consider a meal during Ramadan incomplete if harira isn’t on the table.

I share that sentiment. I’ve come to love and expect harira during Ramadan, and if I don’t have a bowl of this traditional soup after a day of fasting, something always seems to be missing even if I’ve had an otherwise satisfying meal.

As with so many Moroccan recipes, the way harira is made can vary dramatically from family to family. Beef, lamb or chicken are typically added to flavor the stock; however, they can be omitted for a vegetarian version.

Some prefer harira light and mildly seasoned while others favor a thick, zesty soup which suffices as a hearty meal-in-a-bowl. The latter is my preference, no doubt influenced by my mother-in-law’s delicious version below, which she taught me to make long before I moved to Morocco.

Fragrantly seasoned with ginger, pepper, and cinnamon, it gets additional flavor and body from a robust quantity of fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, celery and onion. Rice or broken vermicelli is added as a filler. Smen, a type of preserved butter, is an optional but recommended ingredient, as a little bit will add a pleasant layer of parmesan-like flavor.

The prep work for harira can be considerable; however, much of that work can be done in advance and the prepped ingredients put in the freezer for easy cooking at a later time. If you plan to cook harira with any regularity, such as in Ramadan, then you may want to consider getting that prep work out of the way.

Read through the directions for prepping ingredients for suggestions of what can be done ahead of time. A food processor will help simplify those steps.

Many Moroccans enjoy dates as an accompaniment to harira. And, if serving harira as a light supper, consider offering batbout or krachel on the side.

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bowl of Moroccan harira soup in traditional bowl. Served with dates and dried figs.

Moroccan Harira Recipe

Christine Benlafquih | Taste of Maroc
An authentic recipe for a hearty version of Moroccan harira, a zesty tomato, lentil and chickpea soup.
Plan ahead to allow for overnight soaking of the chickpeas or to prep ingredients in advance. Cooking time is for a pressure cooker; double this time if simmering the soup in a conventional pot.
4.81 from 47 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Moroccan
Yield 6 servings
Calories 330 kcal


  • 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), chopped
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp smen (optional)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste - combined with 1 or 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp uncooked rice OR broken vermicelli
  • 1 cup flour - combined with 2 cups water
  • lemon wedges and cilantro (optional) - for garnish


Ahead of Time - Prep Ingredients

  • 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 of the chickpeas vigorously in a kitchen towel. (The prepped chickpeas may be be frozen until needed.)
  • Pick through the lentils to remove any stones and debris; set aside until ready to use. 
  • Stew the tomatoes then pass them through a food mill to make a puree; discard the skins and seeds. Or, cut the tomatoes into quarters and process them, with or without skin, in a food processor until smooth. (The pureed tomatoes may be frozen until needed.)
  • Grate the onion or process it to a thick pulp in a food processor. (The grated onion may be mixed with the pureed tomatoes and frozen until needed.)
  • Wash the celery and finely chop it. 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 together and frozen until needed.)

Make the Soup

  • In a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker or stock pot, brown the meat in the oil over medium heat. Add the soup bones, peeled chickpeas, pureed tomatoes, grated onion, spices, smen (if using) and 3 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.  Continue to step 3 or step 4.
  • If planning to add rice, cook the soup with medium pressure for 30 minutes (or simmer for 60 minutes); add the rice, and continue cooking with pressure for another 15 minutes (or 30 minutes by simmering). 
  • OR if planning to add broken vermicelli, 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 tedouira (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 the soup 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.
  • If you'd like to freeze the soup, do so before adding the thickener and preferably before adding the rice or broken vermicelli. Allow it to cool completely before freezing. On the day of serving, thaw the soup over low heat then resume cooking from where you left off. 
  • 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 tedouira ahead of time will help ensure that it's lump-free when adding it to the soup.


Calories: 330kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 16gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 1304mgPotassium: 811mgFiber: 7gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1505IUVitamin C: 25.4mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 3.1mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate obtained from online calculators. Optional ingredients may not be included in the nutritional information.

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About the Author

Christine Benlafquih is Founding Editor at Taste of Maroc and owner of Taste of Casablanca, a food tour and culinary activity business in Casablanca. A long time resident of Morocco, she's written extensively about Moroccan cuisine and culture. She was the Moroccan Food Expert for The Spruce Eats (formerly from 2008 to 2016.

Recipe Rating


Monday 11th of October 2021

This is the perfect recipe:) For Authentic Moroccan Harira soup!! Delicious every time! Thank you

Christine Benlafquih

Monday 11th of October 2021

Thank you, Sobia!


Thursday 29th of April 2021

I would not bother peeling the skin off the chickpeas next time.


Tuesday 6th of July 2021

@Simon, I think it would be ok, but the harira will be less silky.

Christine Benlafquih

Thursday 29th of April 2021

I recently made harira without peeling the chickpeas, too. I do think I prefer the smaller size of the chickpeas when peeled since they break in half, but I agree that it's an extra step that can be eliminated.


Thursday 29th of April 2021

I followed quite closely the recipe using a blender and pressure cooker. The family were very impressed! My son said "best dish I (his father) ever cooked". I didn't know where to buy smen, and I substituted Vietmamese coriander for the cilantro. I used less than the recommended quantity of water, so it was more like a stew than a soup, and I didn't add any flour at all to thicken. The tomatoes and tomato paste was sufficiently acidic (tangy) that I didn't need to add lemon juice. What a delicious, hearty meal using just 3 lamb chops. I had to google what a "handful" measure equated to.. suggest half cup or 125ml would be less confusing. Great recipe. This is going to be cooked again! Thank you for sharing it.

Christine Benlafquih

Thursday 29th of April 2021

That's so nice to know! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know your family liked the harira.

Michael Gloekler

Saturday 16th of January 2021

Looking forward to trying this recipe. Seems right up my alley. I’m curious about what cuts of chicken, beef and ESPECIALLY lamb to best to use with this recipe?


Thursday 29th of April 2021

@Michael Gloekler, I simply cut up 3 lamb chops and out them in together with the bone and fat.

Christine Benlafquih

Saturday 16th of January 2021

For lamb, I save and use scraps from trimming and cleaning the leg or shoulder, but stewing cuts work just fine. As long as the meat is cut into small cubes, it will cook quite tender. For chicken, I might cut up some breast meat, but you could cut up a boneless thigh or two if you prefer. Lately, though, I've been making harira without any meat at all; I just add a bit more olive oil for flavor instead.

Hope the harira turns out well for you!


Saturday 14th of November 2020

Great recipe. Delicious soup! We substituted split peas as we were out of lentils in the pantry and although they sort of disappeared, they did add creaminess to the soup. We also added some cumin which gave it an extra Mediterranean flavor. Reminded us of soups in the souk in Fez!

Christine Benlafquih

Saturday 14th of November 2020

Thanks so much for letting me know that you liked the recipe! Yes, split peas tend to break down quickly in soups. I like harira on the thick side so I wouldn't mind that. If you like split peas, be sure to try another Moroccan soup: Split Pea Bessara. It's not as zesty out of the pot as harira, but it's excellent garnished with cumin and cayenne.