Follow these simple steps at home to make my Dad's traditional Moroccan Harira, a warming soup made to break fast during Ramadan in Morocco (Iftar). This homemade soup combines chickpeas, beef, or lamb stew meat, and rice. It's prepared stovetop, and takes just 45 minutes to prepare.
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The combination of the warm, tomato based soup with Moroccan mint tea, sweet dates, hearty eggs and decadent cookies (usually halwa chebakia) is the perfect meal after a long day of fasting.
A traditional Moroccan soup
This Moroccan chickpea soup isn’t just any ordinary recipe. It's a traditional soup packed with healthy ingredients that's prepared annually during Ramadan to break the fast (Iftar) each night.
Like many Moroccan recipes, this one uses fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley, and dried spices like ginger to develop rich flavor.
Here's everything you'll need to make this Moroccan Harira:
- Garbanzo beans (canned or dried, soak overnight if using dried)
- Lamb or beef (stew meat cut into 2 inch cubes)
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion, diced
- Cilantro, minced
- Parsley, minced
- Ginger (ground)
- Tomato puree
- Green lentils
- Vermicelli noodles or white rice
- Optional: cornstarch + water
How to Make It
If using dried garbanzo beans, soak in a bowl of water overnight.
In a heavy bottomed soup pot, add the oil, chopped onion, diced lamb or beef, half of the cilantro & parsley, salt, pepper, and ginger.
Saute on medium high heat for 5-10 minutes or until the meat is browned and the onion translucent.
Drain the garbanzo beans and add to the pot with the tomato puree and water.
Bring the liquid to a boil then cover, lower and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the garbanzos and meat are cooked through.
In a small pot add lentils and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside while you wait for the soup to be done.
Optional: In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and cold water until no clumps remain. Uncover the soup and mix in the cornstarch water slurry to thicken.
Finally, add noodles (or rice), strained lentils and remaining cilantro & parsley.
Cook until the noodles or rice are done. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Iftar & What to eat with Harira
Every family in Morocco has nuances and differences in how they break the fast with this Moroccan lentil soup, or what we call Iftar.
In my family, the focus of Iftar is harira, usually accompanied by mint tea, dates, hard boiled eggs and traditional sesame honey cookies.
Bonus points if you include some freshly baked Khobz (Moroccan bread).
If you're enjoying this soup outside of Ramadan traditions, it's wonderful accompanied by other traditional Moroccan sides too.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Making it vegan/vegetarian
The trick to making this Moroccan lentil soup vegan/vegetarian couldn’t be any easier.
Ready for it?
Just leave out the meat. That’s it. That’s the trick.
This recipe packs a ton of nutrition thanks to garbanzo beans, lentils, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and spices. It is just as flavorful and delicious without the meat.
Storing Leftovers & Reheating Instructions
This Moroccan chickpea soup makes wonderful leftovers.
Like many stews and soups, the flavors seem to develop and become even better after a day or two. Store any leftovers in an air tight container for up to 5 days.
Reheat with a splash of water to loosen the broth up in the microwave or on the stovetop.
A Thank You to My Dad
If there was ever a difficult post for me to write, it’s this one. This soup was the last meal my dad made for my husband and I. It was the last time we saw him before he passed in November of 2020.
It was one of his favorite recipes and one I grew up enjoying with him often, especially as a Ramadan tradition to break the fast.
My dad was always taking care of me. Whether it was making me delicious Moroccan recipes, teaching me how to cook them, or pushing me to buy that new camera I’d been dreaming about (the one I used to take these photos).
Learning from him is what I continue to miss the most; being his daughter was the greatest privilege.
Even as he cooked that last time for me, so full of life in our kitchen, he encouraged me to write down the recipe, take pictures and make notes about his technique and recipe.
This recipe wouldn't be what it is without him, so a very special thanks to my Baba (my dad), for teaching me how to explore. I love you endlessly.