Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup with lentils, chickpeas, and a rich and flavorful broth with warm spices, herbs, and tomatoes.

It’s a nourishing and fulfilling high-protein meal with over 20 grams of healthy, high-quality plant protein per small bowl.

You can make Moroccan harira soup in one pot, and while the ingredients list can seem longer than you’d like, most of the ingredients are pantry staples, some are optional, and the recipe is easy to make.

creamy harira soup with chickpeas and angel hair pasta in a white bowl

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet if made with rice or gluten-free pasta.

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What is Harira Soup?

Harira soup with chickpeas, lentils, and pasta

Harira is a hearty, flavorful, aromatic soup from Morocco and North African Cuisine.

It’s often served to break the fast during Ramadan but is also excellent as a comforting and nourishing meal all year round.

Like other Moroccan and North African dishes – think of our Moroccan lentil soup, Moroccan Couscous, Moroccan Carrot Salad, and Zaalouk (Eggplant Salad), Harira uses flavorful spices to transform humble ingredients like lentils and chickpeas into a delicious and nourishing meal.

Most of our legume-based recipes, like chickpea soup, chickpea curry, spinach stew, lentil curry, and this Moroccan Harira Soup, are heart-healthy, high-protein vegetarian meals that will keep you satiated and fulfilled for hours.

Harira soup without pasta and with yogurt and preserved lemon on top

They all provide complete plant protein, are without cholesterol, have few saturated fats, and plenty of dietary fiber to make you feel great.

Also, traditional world recipes are often the tastiest and most flavorful because they combine spices, herbs, and ingredients brought about by centuries of cultural contamination.

For example, take lentils and rice Mujadara, Tuscan white bean soup, hummus with pita bread, and chana masala; they are wholesome, nutritious, and super tasty recipes.

In this Moroccan Harira soup, we can taste how spices that go as far as India (turmeric and ginger) meld beautifully with cinnamon (common in Arab and Persian cuisine) and cumin (heavily used in Middle-Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean Recipes).

We think you’ll love harira soup because every spoonful will make you travel through centuries of history.

Harira soup video

Ingredients & Substitutions for Harira

ingredients for Harira soup

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Flavor base

  • Extra virgin olive oil: substitute regular olive oil, avocado oil, or another vegetable oil for olive oil. Sometimes, traditionally, butter or smen is used instead of olive oil.
  • Onion: you can use white, red, or yellow onion. Substitute shallot for onion.
  • Celery: chopped into pieces.
  • Garlic: use fresh garlic; grated, minced, pressed, or finely chopped.

Spices

  • Ground ginger: substitute grated fresh ginger.
  • Turmeric powder
  • Ground cumin: substitute cumin seeds.
  • Red pepper flakes: substitute cayenne pepper, a fresh chopped red chili, or a tablespoon of harissa paste.
  • Saffron: optional. Some people might not be used to the flavor of saffron, so if you think you might not like it, it’s best to keep it out.
  • Cinnamon: optional. Cinnamon is traditional in Moroccan cooking, but it can throw some people off since it’s mostly used in sweet preparations in the West. We recommend adding cinnamon, but if you are not sure you’ll like it, start with a small amount, like 1/8 teaspoon, and add more to taste.

Vegetable stock

We use a reduced sodium vegetable broth, although traditionally, beef, lamb, or chicken can be added to flavor the stock.

Tomatoes

We use either crushed or diced canned tomatoes. Substitute tomato puree for crushed tomatoes.

We also add some tomato paste for richness and umami.

Dried lentils

Opt for dried green lentils or dried brown lentils. They are best because they keep their shape.

We would avoid split red lentils because they get mushy.

Substitute canned lentils for dried ones. In this case, you’ll need half the amount of vegetable broth, and you can reduce cooking time in half.

Note that dried lentils don’t require soaking. Rinse them under running water and add them to the pot. They’ll cook in 15 to 45 minutes.

You can learn more about lentils in our how to cook lentils guide.

Chickpeas

We recommend canned chickpeas or dried chickpeas that you previously cooked separately.

To cook chickpeas, soak them overnight in plenty of water with a teaspoon of baking soda. Then rinse them, add them to a pot with fresh water, and cook until tender, about 60 to 120 minutes.

For more step-by-step instructions, check out our guide on How to cook chickpeas.

Fresh herbs

  • Fresh parsley: preferably flat-leaf parsley. If you can’t find that, curly parsley is your best alternative.
  • Fresh cilantro leaves or fresh coriander: optional.
  • Celery leaves: optional.

Flour (optional)

Harira means silk in Arabic, and this recipe uses a slurry (mixture) of all-purpose flour and water to slightly thicken the consistency of the broth and develop an ultra-creamy and velvety soup with a silky mouth feel.

You can substitute cornstarch for flour if you are on a gluten-free diet.

Also, flour is optional, and harira is also delicious without it.

Pasta or rice (optional)

In Morocco, some people add pasta, some add rice, and others make it without pasta or rice.

We add pasta to make Harira soup a complete meal.

The most traditional pasta type is vermicelli noodles, but not Asian vermicelli made from rice or soy. They are vermicelli made with hard wheat semolina flour, just like Italian pasta.

Since traditional Moroccan vermicelli pasta might be hard to find in Western supermarkets, we recommend replacing it with Italian pasta, for example, Angel Hair pasta.

They are virtually identical to Moroccan vermicelli and are perfect for this recipe. Break them in with your hands as you add them to the soup.

Alternatively, you can substitute another long pasta shape for vermicelli. For example, spaghettini or spaghetti, broken by hand, is also a great option.

If you use rice, we recommend cooking it separately and adding it to the harira soup minutes before serving it. You can use white, brown, basmati, and even black rice.

Salt and black pepper

Season with sea salt or kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Harira soup with a silver spoon in a white bowl with fresh parsley

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

How to Make Moroccan Harira Soup

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped onion and celery and sauté for 4 minutes or until translucent.

Add pressed garlic, ground ginger, turmeric powder, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, and optionally saffron and cinnamon.

Cook the spices and garlic for a minute or until fragrant. Add a splash of water if the pan gets dry.

flavor base with tomato paste and onion in a skillet

Stir in the vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, rinsed dried lentils, canned or cooked chickpeas, and season with salt and black pepper.

Tip: dried lentils don’t require soaking. Rinse the lentils under running water to remove dirt, and look for small stones that might hide in between the lentils.

hands holding skillet with tomato sauce, lentils and chickpeas

Cover with a lid, boil, crack the top open, lower the temperature, and simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

Stir occasionally to prevent the legumes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more vegetable broth if the pan gets dry.

Tip: Different lentils have different cooking times, which generally vary between 30 and 45 minutes depending on their size and age. You’ll need to add more broth as you extend the cooking time.

creamy harira soup with cooked lentils and chickpeas

When the lentils are cooked, stir in chopped celery leaves, parsley, and cilantro.

Optionally, whisk the flour in a cup of water and add it to the soup to make it extra velvety and creamy.

Finally, add in the vermicelli or angel-hair pasta or cooked rice.

If you choose pasta, break it with your hands as you add it. Also, you’ll probably need to add an extra cup of vegetable broth or water, as the pasta will absorb it.

Finish cooking, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente.

Harira soup with al dente pasta and hand holding a wooden spoon

Serving Suggestions

Harira soup is a nutritious and satiating main meal.

You can serve it in a bowl and garnish it with a dollop of Greek yogurt, fresh herbs, lemon wedges, dehydrated or preserved lemons.

Harira soup with yogurt in a white bowl and sliced dried lemons

You can also make it without pasta and serve it with some warm pita bread on the side, preserved lemons, or a squeeze of lemon juice and Greek yogurt.

Quick pickled red onions are a great alternative to preserved lemons.

Harira soup without pasta and with yogurt and preserved lemon on top

Questions

Can I make harira without pasta?

Yes, you can make harira soup without pasta and serve it with some crusty bread or pita bread instead.

Alternatively, you can make it with rice.

Can I make harira without flour?

Yes, you can make harira without flour and water slurry or substitute cornstarch for flour.

Storage & Make Ahead

Make ahead: Harira soup is an excellent recipe to make in advance. If you plan to make it for meal prep and have it throughout the week, we recommend making it without pasta or rice as it keeps best this way. You can serve it on rice, with pasta, pita bread, or crusty bread.

Refrigerator: Harira without pasta or rice keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. The soup is even more flavorful the following days as the ingredients have time to meld. Harira with pasta or rice keeps for up to 48 hours.

Freezer: Harira without pasta or rice freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it cool down completely, then transfer it to an airtight container and freeze. We don’t recommend freezing harira with pasta or rice.

Thaw & Reheat: Defrost the soup in the fridge for several hours. Warm it in the microwave or a saucepan with a splash of water.

More Moroccan Recipes

If you like aromatic flavors, these are more delicious Moroccan recipes to try:

More Lentil Soups

For more recipes with lentils, check out our:

harira soup in a white bowl scooping chickpeas and pasta

Harira Soup

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 8 votes
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup with lentils, chickpeas, and a rich and flavorful broth with warm spices, herbs, and tomatoes.
It’s a nourishing and fulfilling high-protein meal with over 20 grams of healthy, high-quality plant protein per small bowl.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Moroccan

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • 1 pinch saffron optional
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon optional
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or more if you add pasta. You can add more or less broth based on your preference.
  • 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup dried green lentils or brown lentils. Substitute 1 small can of lentils for dried lentils. In this case, only simmer the soup for 20 minutes and add half the vegetable broth.
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 handful parsley chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro chopped, optional
  • 1 handful celery leaves chopped, optional
  • ¼ cup flour optional. Substitute 2 tablespoons cornstarch for gluten-free.
  • 5 ounces angel hair pasta or moroccan vermicelli made from hard wheat flour (not asian rice vermicelli). Substitute about 1½ cup of cooked rice.

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 1 large onion, 1 stalk celery (both chopped) and sauté for 4 minutes until translucent.
    Add 2 cloves garlic (pressed), 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 pinch saffron (optional), and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional).
    Cook for 1 more minute or until fragrant. Add a splash of water if the pan dries.
    flavor base with tomato paste and onion in a skillet
  • Stir in 6 cups vegetable broth, 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes, ½ cup dried green lentils (rinsed), 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas (drained).
    Season with 1½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.
    hands holding skillet with tomato sauce, lentils and chickpeas
  • Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.
    Stir occasionally to prevent the legumes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more vegetable broth if the pan gets dry.
    creamy harira soup with cooked lentils and chickpeas
  • Stir in 1 handful parsley, 1 handful cilantro, 1 handful celery leaves, all chopped.
    Optional step: whisk ¼ cup flour in 1 cup of water and add it to the soup to make it extra velvety and creamy.
    Optional step: break it 5 ounces angel hair pasta Moroccan vermicelli, or cooked rice. If you add pasta, you'll probably need 1 more cup of broth or water.
    Harira soup with al dente pasta and hand holding a wooden spoon
  • Finish cooking, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente.
    Serve in a bowl. Garnish with lemon wedges or preserved lemons, fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, and optionally a dollop of Greek yogurt.
    Harira soup with yogurt in a white bowl and sliced dried lemons

Video

Harira Soup (High Protein Vegetarian Meal)

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for one small serving of Harira soup out of four servings without yogurt.
STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD
Make ahead: Harira soup is an excellent recipe to make in advance. If you plan to make it for meal prep and have it throughout the week, we recommend making it without pasta or rice as it keeps best this way. You can serve it on rice, with pasta, pita bread, or crusty bread.
Refrigerator: Harira without pasta or rice keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. The soup is even more flavorful the following days as the ingredients have time to meld. Harira with pasta or rice keeps for up to 48 hours.
Freezer: Harira without pasta or rice freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it cool down completely, then transfer it to an airtight container and freeze. We don’t recommend freezing harira with pasta or rice.
Thaw & Reheat: Defrost the soup in the fridge for several hours. Warm it in the microwave or a saucepan with a splash of water.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE
 

Nutrition

Calories: 437kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 938mg, Dietary Fiber: 15g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 644IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 19mg, Vitamin E: 3mg, Vitamin K: 50µg, Calcium: 121mg, Folate: 182µg, Iron: 6mg, Manganese: 2mg, Magnesium: 106mg, Zinc: 3mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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4 Comments

  1. This was my first time using a recipe from this site and I am looking forward to making more. I am impressed with how thoroughly well written the instructions are, as well as including the ingredients with the amounts in the body of the recipe makes following it on a device so much easier. The Harira soup was great! Next time I will either thicken it or use noodles as doing both was a bit too starchy. Flavor was great!

    Thank you for the obvious effort put into communicating the recipes!

    1. Hi Lauren,
      I’m so happy you like our recipe instructions. We put a lot of time and effort into this in order to make it a seamless and easy experience for the user.

      Thank you very much for your kind feedback, it means a lot to us ❤️

      All the best,

      Louise