Harira: A Hearty Moroccan Soup



Here is a wonderful soup from Morocco, hearty and nourishing with its chickpeas, meat, tomatoes, parsley, and cilantro. It’s not complicated to make; all you have to do is get all the ingredients together. Eat it accompanied by dates and honey cakes: you’ll be enraptured. I’d like to thank Kenza and Touria for teaching me how to make it according to tradition. And thank you, Touria, for the lovely little bowl from Marrakesh, which I simply adore.


Recipe for harira (for 6 to 8)
  • 5 oz. / 150 g dried chickpeas (or about 300 g soaked and peeled)
  • 7 oz. / 200 g beef chuck, or other stewing beef, cubed, plus 1 or 2 marrow bones if you wish
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 ½ oz. / 45 g flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 oz. / 70 g cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 oz. / 30 g celery leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small pinch orange food coloring (this is widely used in Morocco, but it’s optional here)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 pinch cinnamon (if you want to make a northern Moroccan style harira)
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 g unsalted butter
  • 6 1/3 pints (US) / 3 liters water
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/3 cups / 170 g flour
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (or smen)
  • A handful of chopped parsley and cilantro to serve
Here are the chickpeas. Place them in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight (or at least 12 hours) and peel them. If you’re pressed for time, you can leave them unpeeled, but peeling is actually quite quick to do and ensures your harira has a great texture.


Place the beef and onions in a large pot and cook over medium heat.


Add the soaked, peeled chickpeas.



Finely chop the parsley, cilantro, and celery leaves.




Add the herbs to the pot.


Stir well.



Add the salt.




These are the spices:  ginger, pepper, coloring (optional), turmeric and cinnamon, if using.


Add the butter.


Pour in 5 ¼ pints / 2.5 liters of the water and stir.





To prepare the tomatoes: cut them into pieces.


Place them in a saucepan of cold water and set over medium heat.


Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.


Drain the tomatoes and place them in a food mill or sieve.



Push the pulp through and discard the seeds and skin.




Add the tomato pulp to the cooking pot. The pot shown in the photo was too small, because more water is added later. So I had to transfer the contents to a larger pot. Best to start with the right size.


Cover with the lid. If you have a pressure cooker, cook for 25 minutes. If not, continue cooking until the meat is tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.



The soup already smells delicious, but it’s not ready yet. 



Dilute the tomato paste in a little water and stir it into the pot.



Stir in the bouillon cube and the ghee.


Place the flour in a mixing bowl and pour in the remaining water. Stir well, until thoroughly mixed.



Pour the flour-water mixture into the pot.


Bring back to a boil, leaving the lid off, for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon to ensure that the bottom doesn’t stick. (It’s advisable not to use a metal spoon as it might cause the soup to “split”, so it would be less velvety.). Add a handful of chopped cilantro and parsley.



And now the soup is ready! 



Here are photos of Kenza (left) who stayed to teach me with Touria.


Now serve and enjoy.



To enjoy the harira in traditional style, serve it with dates and a few mkhrkas. The sweet-savory combination is fantastic.

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