Harira is a classic Moroccan lentil and chickpea soup with fresh herbs and loads of warm spices. This satisfying vegetarian soup is even better the next day, so it is the perfect make-ahead pot to feed a little crowd. I typically serve it with lemon slices and warm pita bread.

harira served in a bowl, garnished with cilantro with lemon wedges to the side

What is harira?

Harira soup is a hearty tomato-based Moroccan soup made with legumes like lentils and chickpeas, fresh herbs, and warm spices including turmeric, cumin and cinnamon. It is typically thickened with broken vermicelli pasta or rice. This tasty lentil and chickpea soup is served in Morocco and other parts of North Africa anytime of the year, but it is especially associated with the month of Ramadan and is served most often to break the fast.

Harira, pronounced hah-ree-rah, gets its name from the Arbic word حرير"harir" which literally means silk, a fitting description of its velvety texture. I can't wait for you to try it!

ingredients for vegetarian harira soup

Vegetarian harira

One of the things I love about this popular soup is that there are many variations of it, depending on what legumes you have on hand. I used a combination of green lentils, red lentils, and chickpeas (canned chickpeas are a great shortcut option). I took some liberties by adding things like celery and carrots (the carrots are a nice idea because they add a subtle sweetness). And in place of vermicelli pasta, I used long grain rice (or basmati rice) which makes this recipe gluten free.

Harira soup is not always vegetarian, many recipes incorporate small chunks of boneless lamb. I might try that option sometime, but like my black eyed peas recipe, red lentil soup, and many other bean dishes we eat on the Mediterranean diet, this is another dinner that is hearty and satisfying without the addition of meat.

This harira recipe is even better the next day when the flavors have had time to meld. It will get pretty thick as it sits in the fridge, but you can just add a little bit of liquid as your warm up your leftover harira soup.

spices for moroccan lentil and chickpea soup

The spices

The decidedly warm North African flavors in this harira soup recipe is what makes it different from another lentil soup or chickpea soup. Here are the spices I used:

How to make harira: Step-by-Step

(scroll down for the print-friendly recipe and complete ingredient list)

  • Cook onions, celery, and carrots
    Garb a large pot or Dutch oven (this is the one I use) and cook up the chopped onions, celery and carrots in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until softened a bit (about 5 minutes). Season with kosher salt and add the garlic and spices and cook another minute or so (your kitchen will smell amazing)
    onions, celery, carrots and spices cooked in a pot
  • Add the tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas
    At this point, add in the tomatoes (crushed tomatoes from a can), tomato paste (this really amps up the flavor and gives the soup some good color), both green and red lentils, and drained chickpeas (I used chickpeas from a can). Add the chopped cilantro, and if you do end up using some harissa paste, this is where you stir it in. Add a pinch of kosher salt and give everything a good stir to combine.
    legumes, tomatoes, and broth added
  • Add the liquid and cook
    You can use low sodium vegetable or chicken stock (7 cups, or more if you like it more brothy). Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cover and let simmer until the lentils are fully cooked and very tender (about 45 minutes). Make sure to check the soup occasionally to adjust the liquid; it will get thick but you want to make sure you can still pour it (plan to add a little bit of water or more stock and adjust the salt as needed).
    At this point, stir in the rice (or broken vermicelli) and cook another 15 minutes.
  • Serve with Lemon Wedges
    Don't underestimate that fresh squeeze of lemon to wake all the earthy and deep flavors in this soup up! Cut up one or two lemons into wedges and have those available next to the soup.

    You don't need much else to serve next to this hearty soup, but a little warm pita bread won't hurt.
harira soup served in a bowl with lemon wedges to the side

Leftovers

Allow the soup to cool off before storing. Pour leftovers in tight-lid containers and store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Remember, this lentil and chickpea soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge; it is the nature of legumes. You can add a little bit of water to loosen the soup as you warm it through. Warm over medium heat, stirring regularly.

You may also like

Ribollita Soup

17 Bean Recipes for Any Night of the Week

Moroccan Chicken

Hungry for more? See more soup and stew recipes and browse more Mediterranean diet recipes.

Harira is a classic Moroccan lentil and chickpea soup with fresh herbs and loads of warm spices. This satisfying vegetarian soup is even better the next day, so it is the perfect make-ahead pot to feed a little crowd. I typically serve it with lemon slices and warm pita bread.
Prep – 15 mins
Cook – 45 mins
Cuisine:
Moroccan
Serves – 6 people (up to)
Course:
Dinner

Ingredients
  

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 14- ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 14- ounce can chickpeas
  • 7 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably low-sodium
  • ¼ cup long grain rice, rinsed or ¼ cup broken vermicelli
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a large Dutch Oven, heat 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season with kosher salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly until softened.
  • Add the garlic and spices and cook for a couple of 1 to 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cilantro, lentils (both green and red), and chickpeas. Add a dash more kosher salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the broth and raise the heat. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes or until the legumes are fully cooked and very tender (check occasionally and plan to add more stock or water. The soup will be thick, but it should not be too thick that you cannot pour it. Make sure to adjust the salt as you add more liquid.)
  • Stir in the rice and cook for another 15 or until the rice is fully cooked.
  • Serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

  • Homemade harissa paste makes a great addition to flavor this soup. If you have it, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons in step # 
  • Leftover and storage: Once the soup has cooled completely, transfer to tight-lid containers and store in the fridge. If stored properly, it will keep for 3 to 4 days. This soup will get pretty thick as it sits in the fridge, you can add a little water as you warm it through. Warm over medium heat, stirring regularly. 
  • Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including lentils, olive oil and spices used in this recipe. 

Nutrition

Calories: 304.3kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 22.3gFat: 2.6gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPotassium: 1107.9mgFiber: 24.9gVitamin A: 2851.1IUVitamin C: 14.7mgCalcium: 108.6mgIron: 7.4mg
Tried this recipe?

Share it with the world

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    One of my favourite recipes! I pinned it months ago and have made it over and over. Decided it was finally time to leave a comment to say WOW, you really knew what you were doing with this one!! 👌🏻🔥

  2. 5 stars
    SO GOOD. Basically everything I love in Mediterranean cooking. The spices are just so delicious and wonderful. I followed the recipe as is, except I used 2 cups green lentils because I couldn't find red lentils, and I used about 2 oz (half a box) of rice noodles, which didn't really require any cook time. I ended up adding 2 cups of water during the simmering process. For anyone tracking calories, it ended up making about 14.5 cups, with each cup being about 200 calories by my calculation. So so delicious, will definitely make again.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Suzy, we made this as is and it was TERRIFICE. If one wanted to add a meat protean (chicken, etc) which would you recommend and how / when would you incorporate it?

    1. Hello! So glad you enjoy this one. I have actually not tried incorporating meat with this one, so it's a bit hard to advise. I feel like it's soup is VERY hearty as-is. I prefer to serve it with a salad for a solid meatless dinner :).

    2. Hi HeyJoe,

      I love this dish and my family like to think there is some meat ! I cook it a bit slow ( sometimes in the slow cooker ) and add either an Osso Bucco or a lamb shank - I try to keep it mostly meatless so I just add one ( a largish one ) for a bit of meat and flavour.

  4. The rice you're stirring in at the end, is that pre-cooked or is it raw and then the 15 mins it simmers is the cooking time for it?

  5. 5 stars
    Yet another fantastic recipe from The Mediterranean Dish! This has been my lunch at work for the past week. It really does get better the next day. I didn't have cilantro at home so I used parsley instead. A perfect soup during these cold New England winter months!

  6. 5 stars
    This soup was amazing. It tasted wonderful and made my house smell even better! I served this with a hunk of whole grain bread and the only change I made is that I used Farro in place of the rice.

    My only critique is that the cooking time is off pretty significantly. With the 45 minute simmer, 5 min boil, 5 min onion saute and 15 min rice cook. It's closer to 1.5 hours of cook time.

    That being said. Loved this recipe and will definitely make it again.

    1. Totally agree with this. Making it now and I was super disappointed when I saw 45 minutes of cook time and then dinner was ready 15 minutes late because of the rice. Smells amazing though!

  7. 5 stars
    This is delicious and really doesn't take long to cook at all. It has the consistency of a stew or chili and I will make it again because its that good! I froze more then half of it because we are just two people here and will have it for lunch and supper! I didn't have fresh carrots so I put half a bag of sliced frozen at the end while it came to a boil. That worked!

  8. Oh soooo good. I did substitute parsley for the cilantro as I didn’t have any, but added some of the spices in your harissa recipe too and I added some kale. It is wonderful. Thank you.

  9. 5 stars
    Wonderful, tasty and satisfying dinner for a cold day in the Rockies! Had it with some homemade pita and lemon as suggested. I added the cilantro just before serving because we love fresh cilantro. The only other change was adding some smoked paprika as inspired by your harissa paste recipe. I'll be making the harissa paste later this week!

    Dave

  10. 5 stars
    This is so incredibly flavorful, delicious and hearty. It is easy to see why it is a traditional dish. I was very surprised because we are all meat eaters but we all loved it. Harira is definitely comfort food and a keeper. I will make this regularly without changing anything in the recipe. Next time though, I will be sure to have some pita! Thank you for enriching my routine menu!

  11. 5 stars
    Just made this soup tonight and it is delicious! I actually forgot to add the rice and it worked out anyway. I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

  12. 5 stars
    Made this last night for dinner. Once again, Suzy, it was amazing. I followed the recipe to a T, using my own canned tomatoes from the garden. My husband thinks I am a star chef everytime I make one of your recipes, which has become almost every day. Thank you for making healthy AND delicious recipes.