Ultimate Harira — Moroccan Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Ultimate Harira — Moroccan Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Recipe and Photo by Kimberly Killebrew at The Daring Gourmet.

  • prep
  • cook
  • 4-6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons oil

  • 1 pound beef or lamb, cut into ½ inch cubes

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger

  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoons salt

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon

  • 2 teaspoons harissa (optional)

  • 8 cups beef or lamb broth

  • ¾ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight then rinsed and drained (or 1 15 ounce can, drained)

  • ¾ cup dried French Le Puy lentils (they hold their shape and texture better than regular brown lentils)

  • ¼ cup long grain rice (another traditional alternative is broken up vermicelli pasta)

  • ⅓ cup Organic Green Olives Pitted, drained and sliced

  • ⅓ cup Black Ripe Olives, drained and sliced

  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley

  • Lemon wedges for serving

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium high heat and brown the beef. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside. (Leave the browned bits in the pot, those are going to give our harira tremendous flavor.)

  2. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent and they turn golden, 6-8 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices preserved lemon and harissa (if using) and let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes.

  3. Return the beef to the pot with the chickpeas and lentils. Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for one hour. Add the rice, cover and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.

  4. Stir in the olives, cilantro and parsley and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and more harissa if you prefer it spicier.

  5. Garnish with some chopped fresh cilantro and celery leaves. If you like, serve the harira with lemon wedges to squirt in some lemon juice. Harira is traditionally served with a side serving of dried dates.

  6. NOTE: This soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to deepen. Note though that the lentils and rice will absorb more of the liquid so you will have to add some broth to thin it out. Alternatively, if you plan to make this dish ahead, you follow the directions to simmer the soup for an hour and then the next day you can add the rice and simmer it for the remaining 30 minutes.