Food & Travel

Harira soup

Harira, the national soup, and mint tea from stall 67 at the Djemaa el-Fna, the market in Marrakech, Morocco. Harira, the national soup, and mint tea from stall 67 at the Djemaa el-Fna, the market in Marrakech, Morocco. (Luke Pyenson for The Boston Globe)
November 17, 2010

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Serves 8

The traditional harira, always served during Ramadan with dates and also offered the rest of the year, can contain beaten eggs, cubes of lamb, and other ingredients. It is usually thickened with a paste of semolina or regular flour mixed with water, which is omitted here. Allow time for the chickpeas to soak overnight. The soup tastes better the following day, but thickens dramatically on standing. You may need up to several cups additional water when reheating.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch saffron threads
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 jalapeno or other chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
1 1/2 cups French lentils
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 quart vegetable stock
1 quart water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
5 ounces fine soup noodles, crushed in a bowl
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the onions, celery, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook 2 minutes more.

2. Add the saffron, paprika, cumin, and jalapeno or chili pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to mellow the spices. Stir in the tomatoes.

3. Add the lentils, chickpeas, vegetable stock, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat, set the cover on askew, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils and chickpeas are tender. Add more water during cooking if the soup seems too thick.

4. Stir in the parsley, cilantro, and noodles. Set the cover on askew. Continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the noodles are tender. (Total simmering time is 1 hour.) Taste for seasoning. Stir in the mint.

Sheryl Julian. Adapted from “Morocco Modern’’