Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup

If you are like me and have ever dreamed about traveling to Morocco, your first thoughts might be of intriguing alleyways leading to exotic markets filled with conical mounds of saffron, cumin, turmeric and paprika. Wandering a little further on there would be stalls with earthenware jars filled with olives, preserved lemons and spicy harissa. In my dreams there is the perfect café where you could have a once in a lifetime meal.  It might start with Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup. It is a traditional soup that is enjoyed at wedding celebrations and during Ramadan, to break the fast. It would probably be served with dates, dried figs, nuts and even sweet little pastries.

Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup With Spicy Merguez Sausage
Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup With Spicy Merguez Sausage

There are many versions of this soup or stew, varying from region to region, family to family. It can be made as a vegetarian version or prepared with lamb, chicken or beef. I made the vegetarian version of the soup. I served the harira alongside grilled Merguez, a Moroccan lamb sausage heavily spiced with cumin and chili peppers.

Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  •  pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 c. lentils
  • 1 c. cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinsed)
  • 2 c. stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. water or additional stock
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. or to taste harissa (optional)
  • lemon slices or wedges to serve alongside

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, add the onion and carrot and cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute. Add the spices and cook until fragrant. Add the lentils, chickpeas, stock, tomatoes and water, stir and cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, and harissa and simmer for a few minutes. Taste for additional seasoning. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro and a lemon slice.

****

Harira, is a deliciously spiced and fragrant chickpea and lentil soup that will take your taste buds on that trip to exotic Morocco that you may have dreamed about. It is a versatile soup that has been influenced by the cuisines of many countries over the centuries. Whether you have the vegetarian version or add meat to the soup for a more substantial dish, it is delicious.  You can add a flatbread and perhaps a salad of oranges and you will have a memorable meal.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

207 thoughts on “Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup

    1. Hi Mad Dog, I agree with you about harissa adding lots of flavor. I serve it on the side so that everyone can make the soup as spicy as they want. Merguez and frites are a real treat as well. 🙂

  1. It sounds like a delicious soup and it certainly has a long list of ingredients. I would like to try this as I’m quite fond of Middle Eastern cuisine xx

    1. Hi Charlie, This really is a delicious soup. It may sound like a long list of spices but that is what makes it so flavorful.

    1. Hi Kay, I’m glad you like the recipe…I think the soup is delicious. I have only been in Tangier for a day trip from Spain. Marrakesh and Fez sound like they would be wonderful.

    1. Hi Jerry, I agree with you about harira being both a healthy and hearty dish. It is very much like a stew…I’m glad you like it.

  2. Just reading that list of spices took me to Morocco! Glad to know someone else doesn’t check the calendar and makes bean soup anytime of year.Love bean soups. With sausage on the side, even my Mr. Rosemary could handle it!

    1. Hi Rosemary, My husband and I love beans and have them quite often…no matter the time of year. The sausages certainly made my husband smile. 🙂

  3. Hi Karen, Yes! I do dream of going to Morocco someday and my vision of the shopping is similar to yours! So far the closest I’ve gotten is the “Morocco” in Disney World’s Epcot, where I did have a version of this soup which was delicious. Since then I have read two Moroccan cookbooks but have not yet tried any recipes from them. I even have a tagine which I will try soon. Your recipe sounds yummy and easy enough for me! Thanks for always giving me inspiration! Linda

    1. Hi Linda, I’m glad I’m not alone in my dreams of Morocco. This is a quick and easy soup with lots of flavor. I’m happy the post inspired…thank you for the nice compliment.

    1. Thank you T.W., for your nice compliment. You are right…food takes us all over the world without having to leave home. 🙂

  4. Looks so delicious. I am going to copy it 🙂 It reminded me the Moroccan chicken recipe that I cooked sometime ago. Thank you so much for the recipe. Happy weekend, Karen!

    1. Hi Amy, I hope you will enjoy the recipe…we really liked the harira. I love all the spices in Moroccan food and the wonderful aromas that fill the kitchen while it is cooking. I hope you have a lovely weekend as well.

  5. I love all the spices in this beautiful soup! I’ve never tried harissa before so I need to keep an eye out for that ingredient. Have a wonderful weekend Karen!

    1. Hi Tessa, The spices give this soup its wonderful flavor. The harissa I buy comes in a tube and is packaged in a box and is on the international aisle of my supermarket. If you can’t find this North African chili paste you might try substituting Thai chili garlic sauce or sriracha.

  6. The soup sounds and certainly looks delicious, and other than a tasty chickpea curry, hummus and a dal type pureed soup that I make, I don’t do too many things with chickpeas. I have almost all the ingredients needed other than the harissa in the house right now, though I wonder if dried parsley would be ok.

    I’ve HEARD of mergeuz sausages and would love to try anything with a lamb base as there’s too little of it in my diet. 🙂

    1. Hi Boleyn, I do think you would enjoy the harira. You could either use dried parsley or leave it out…it won’t change the flavor that much. If you can’t find harissa, you could use sriracha, Thai chili garlic sauce or other chili paste. Merguez are delicious…spicy with cumin and chili. They are very popular in France as well.

    1. Hi Pamela, This was a meal that was loaded with flavor. Merguez sausage are terrific…sometimes we have a meal of merguez and fries. It is a popular meal in France.

  7. Lovely recipe. Harira really is delicious, and as you say, flexible for vegetarians or with meat. I had a lovely authentic street food harira last month, though not in Morocco but in London. Hope to visit Morocco soon…

    1. Hi Tracey, I bet the harira you had in London was delicious. I’m with you, I’d love to visit Morocco and have the dish there.

    1. Hi Angela, You brought a smile to my face…”fairy dust magic”, I love it. All those spices really make this soup wonderful.

  8. Great soup! When I lived in Morocco, I often had this right after sundown during Ramadan (along with half the population of Fez, it seemed) even though hadn’t been fasting — it’s so refreshing and filling! I think the lamb versions of this soup are particularly nice, but your vegetarian option looks super. Great idea to pair it with Merguez — they are so flavorful and would go with the soup beautifully. Wonderful recipe — thank you.

    1. Hi John, I would love to be able to have this soup while visiting Morocco…Fez is supposed to be a wonderful city to visit. My husband loves merguez and was thrilled that I served them with the soup.

  9. Funny enough we did that same day trip from Spain one year – crossing over very near the rock of Gibraltar I believe! We toured the markets and had a meal. Very different from anywhere I had ever seen or been. You meal looks delicious – question -where did you get the sausage? Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough in Market Basket?

    1. Hi Carol, You are right…the boat that we took from Spain to Tangier passed near Gibraltar. No, the merguez sausage isn’t from Market Basket. It is made by D’Artagnan and I buy it at Butcher Boy in Andover, Mass.

      1. Ahhhh – I have been to the shop you refer to – it is a good one. I am thinking I might be able to pick this up at Karl’s Sausage kitchen which is closer to me. Thanks!

      2. Karl’s Sausage Kitchen is a great shop…I’ve gone there for ingredients for Octoberfest parties. 🙂

    1. Thank you Danielle, I’m happy to know that you like the recipe…I hope you will enjoy it as much as my husband and I did.

  10. Reading that recipe … I can smell all the spices through the screen! I can’t say I have eaten a lot of North African dishes – I love couscous and tagines – I love the use of their mixtures of spices; ginger,cumin, chili, cinnamon, turmeric and saffron plus of course pri-pri and harissa. Have a fantastic duck recipe somewhere, have to dig it out. This looks very healthy .. and healthy for the “system” too. I will file it … I looked for lamb sausage two day in two shops … none, but I’m not surprised. Have a great weekend.

    1. Hi Viveka, This soup’s aroma is wonderful from all the spices in it. I have to travel down to Massachusetts to buy the merguez sausage…my local markets don’t carry them either. Thank you for your comment and I hope you have a great weekend as well.

  11. Hi, Karen! I am sending this recipe to my best friend. She recently tried lentils for the first time (we are in our 50s!), and she liked them so much that she’s trying to find different recipes that are tried and true. I think she’ll enjoy this one. Thank you! Have a great weekend!!!

    1. Hi Monique, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. You are right, the aroma of this dish was terrific.

  12. Yay–something vegetarian. I KNEW you’d come through! I will definitely try this.
    I must plead ignorance—where does one get harissa?

    1. Hi Sue, I always try to listen to my readers if they have a special request. I haven’t done a lot of vegetarian dishes but hopefully some of my side dishes will fit your new lifestyle. I will try to add more dishes in future posts. Harissa is a hot pepper paste. The one I buy comes in a tube that is packaged in a box…found in the international isle of my supermarket. If you can’t find this North African chili paste, you could use sriracha, Thai chili garlic paste or your favorite hot sauce.

    1. Hi Celia, If you like chorizo, I think you would enjoy merguez. They are a skinny sausage which is spicier than chorizo. Harissa and sumac are added to other spices when making the lamb sausages.

  13. This has to be delicious.
    If you ever do get the chance of travelling to Morocco my advise is to prebook everything before you go, including excursions. It’s notoriously risky for tourists otherwise, and prices online are suddenly double or triple if you haven’t booked. I would love to go back as the food was sensational. However, it’s undoubtedly one of thee most boring countries I’ve ever been to. Ouch!

    1. Hi Johnny, What an interesting comment. Wow, boring…I never would have guessed. Although if I have good food and sights I’ve never seen before, I’m pretty happy. 🙂 Thanks for the information about prebooking.

  14. I discovered harira a few years ago and simply love it! I’ve blogged about it too, yet it’s been over a year since I made it. Thanks for the reminder – a culinary trip to Morocco awaits!

    1. Thank you Uru, for your nice compliment. Close your eyes as you eat this soup and you will feel like you are in Morocco. 🙂

    1. Hi Heather, I was thinking of you and a couple of my other readers when I was making this soup. I’m happy to know you are going to be making the harira. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Kelli, This meal was as good as it looks. I hope you will be able to find the merguez, they are spicy and good. One of our favorite ways of eating them is with Dijon mustard and fries…a popular dish in France.

  15. This is a really interesting one Karen & sounds so flavorful. I was going to ask you where you found those sausage but see you already answered that above. I’m going to have to check out Butcher Boy – Andover’s just up the highway – thanks for the great tip.

    1. Hi Diane, I do think you would enjoy this meal. I go to Butcher Boy three or four times a year for D’Artagnan products that I can’t find in New Hampshire.

  16. Have just changed your recipe for my recipe: love, love, love the soup and yours looks more interesting than my current one, so can’t wait to try! No problems getting merguez sausages here either and I have just made harissa! Actually one of your bloggers is at the moment leading a tour group in Morocco: hope she gets withing i-Pad contact and can read and comment 🙂 !

    1. Hi Eha, I’m so happy that you like my recipe…I hope you will enjoy it. Yes, Victoria is leading a tour in Morocco at the present time. Evidently we will have to wait until she returns before we can read about this year’s adventure. Isn’t it lovely that we have the internet to be able to enjoy traveling with our friends. 🙂

  17. There was a time I would have dove into that bowl of soup/stew. It looks so good, the spice so tantalizing and aromatic. Sadly, these days I would approach the spices very gingerly. Small tastes only, not a bowl.

    1. Hi Annie, Thank you for stopping by for a visit. One nice thing about preparing soup…you can adjust it to your own tastes.

  18. What a fabulous recipe. This is such a wild combination of flavors included in this soup and I can’t imagine I wouldn’t just love it. We were at dinner with friends a couple of weeks ago and they order the merguez sausages. They raved about them! I can guarantee I’m going to want to make this soup very soon. It is irresistible. Hope your hand is getting better, Karen. 🙂

    1. Hi Debra, This is such a lovely flavored soup because of all the spices used. I do think you would enjoy merguez sausages…they are a little spicy and loaded with flavor. Thank you for thinking about my hand…it is getting better, I guess I would say it is two steps forward, one step back right not.

    1. Hi Tandy, It appears that there are a lot of us that have the same dream of visiting Morocco. I’m glad you like the recipe…thank you.

  19. Well said, my tastebuds are co scantly Travelling and the way I see it, (it’s) a much tastier version of armchair Travelling. Spices, mergeuz sausages and cilantro, yum! What’s not to love 🙂

  20. Lovely recipe. I fell in love with international food on my first trip to Morocco years ago and loved it even more when I returned decades later. There is something special about the combination of sweet/spicy and preserved lemons that just can’t be beat. I’ll be giving yours a go as I tend to go back to my old favorites over and over.

    1. Thank you Jeannee, for your nice comment. I agree with you about Moroccan flavors being so good. I made preserved lemons and they are almost ready to use so you will be seeing more Moroccan dishes in the future.I hope you will enjoy the harira recipe.

  21. Hi Karen,

    Very interesting recipe and I remain fascinated to know that this is Moroccan in origin. In Oman, we have a very similar preparation being served by most Turkish outlets.

    Shakti

    1. Hi Shakti, I’m glad that you liked the recipe. It is interesting that there is a similar dish served in Oman…I’m sure it is delicious. Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your comment.

  22. I have traveled there and I can say that Morocco is exactly as you describe it: the air is heavy with the scent of spice!! Your soup recipe made me long back to getting lost in those tiny allyways amongst the spice sellers and food stalls!

    1. Hi Afra, I’m happy to hear that my description of Morocco is a good one and that it brought back memories of your visit there.

    1. Thank you Donna, for your nice compliment. I do try to make recipes that are full of flavor and this soup is delicious.

  23. Morocco is one of my all time favorite trips. The colors, tastes and smells are sensory delights just as I’m sure your soup is.

    1. Hi Linda, I was only in Tangier for a day trip…I know I would enjoy a much longer visit. You are right about the aroma and taste of this soup.

    1. Hi David, I’m glad that my post reminded you of your trip to Morocco and about how good harira is. Merguez is delicious…spicy and full of flavor.

  24. I am fortunate enough to have some close Moroccan friends so I have this wonderful soup all the time. I love Moroccan and Algerian cuisine, so many bold and spicy flavours. I love your idea of pairing this with merguez sausages. I am going to have to remember this combo when Ramadan rolls around this year.

    Nazneen

    1. Hi Nazneen, You are so lucky to be able to experience all the wonderful dishes from Morocco and Algeria. I thought the merguez sausages went very well with the soup.

  25. Like you dream of Morocco Karen I dream of Turkey with its myriad of food cultures and spices piled high. Some day we will both realize our dreams.

    1. Hi Val, Everything I have seen and read about Turkey is that it is a wonderful country to visit. Let’s hope we will both be able to travel to these countries…dreams can come true. 🙂

  26. Karen, I love chickpeas and always have a couple of cans in my cupboards; this soup sounds delicious and is one for me to try. I love your idea of serving it with grilled spicy sausages.

  27. Oh Karen, this soup is exploding with flavor! I love this little trip to Morocco with all the spices and I could happily eat chickpeas and lentils everyday. What a bowl of delicious comfort.

  28. Love that hearty and delicious looking Morrocan soup. The other one that caught my attention are the sausages. I would really enjoy eating them together. You are making me so hungry, Karen! 🙂

    1. Hi Ray, I think this was a delicious meal…the soup and spicy sausages went well together. Sorry to have made you hungry. 🙂

    1. Hi Lail, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. I’m glad you like the recipe…the soup is delicious.

  29. Beautiful chickpea and lentil Moroccan soup. I love your spices and harissa and giving time for the flavours to mingle. It is probably even better the next day but I think if I made it for my family there would not be a scrap left.

    1. Thank you Bobbi, I’m glad you like the recipe. It truly is a flavorful soup and you are right, it is better the next day.

    1. Hi Lidia, I’m glad you like the harira recipe. Actually, this is a nice soup to have anytime of the year…as it is enjoyed in Morocco on even the hottest day.

  30. Just beautiful. And yes, I do dream of Morcocco. I’ve wanted to go there for years! Hopefully we’ll make it to that beautiful country soon. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this delicious lentil soup. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Monet, for your nice compliment. I do hope you get the chance to visit Morocco someday but until then, I think you will enjoy this wonderful soup.

  31. With that list of ingredients, this must be a very flavorful bowl of soup, Karen. Thanks for sharing your recipe and I’m glad to read that your hands are doing a little better. I hope it’s not long before they’re back to 100%.

    1. Hi John, You are indeed right…all the spices give this soup a wonderful flavor and aroma. My hand is getting better, I can use a few fingers now but I am still using one hand for answering comments. Thank you so much for thinking about me…it is very much appreciated.

  32. Karen, this is another great soup infused with wonderful spices. I can almost smell it from here. And I can’t resist those sausages. I’m a sausage monster. 🙂

    1. Hi Danny, The aroma of this soup is wonderful. If you are a sausage monster, then you would really enjoy merguez…they are spicy and flavorful. 🙂

    1. I’m like you Barbara, I love the flavors and aromas of Moroccan food. I’m glad you like the recipe…I hope you will enjoy it.

  33. Hi Karen, we were in Morocco almost two years ago and it surely was an incredible experience. Your soup looks good enough to serve at one of their finest restaurants! I too love the warming flavours of the spice combo in this traditional dish. The lamb sausages sound excellent as a side with it.

    1. Thank you Eva, for your nice compliment…I’m happy to know that you like the looks of the harira. The lamb sausages went well with the soup.

  34. Karen, your recipes never cease to amaze me – just looking at the list of spices required for this fabulous chickpea and lentil soup I cannot help but be intrigued. I never prepared any dish that would remotely resemble this soup but I imagine it tastes just wonderful!
    Have a great Wednesday!

    1. Thank you Andrea, for your kind words. This soup is very flavorful with all the spices used…we really enjoyed the harira. I hope you have a lovely week with your family.

    1. Hi Anne, I know you must have had a wonderful time visiting Morocco. It seems like such an intriguing country to visit. I do enjoy the flavors in their food…I’m happy you like the recipe.

  35. Leave it to you Karen to make me hungry LOL. This soup looks amazing and the presentation has my mouth watering right now. Okay I’m looking away from your photos now 🙂

    1. Hi Kay, I guess I’m guilty of always making you hungry but I’m happy you like the harira. It is OK to look away. 🙂

    1. Hi Amy, I know that your soup must be delicious. I know that harira is a very flavorful dish full of wonderful spices.

  36. I might be able to make something worthwhile out of that bag of lentils I have sitting in my drawer. The first and last time I made lentils got burned (two weeks ago).

    1. I think you will enjoy this recipe, Liuba. When making this soup, keep it at a simmer. If necessary just add a little stock or water, I don’t think you will have a problem with it burning. Good luck and enjoy!

    1. Hi Pumpkin, I think you are right about this being a nice meal for a Sunday evening. I’m happy you like the harira recipe…thanks.

    1. Thank you Wendy, I’m glad you like the recipe. Your local lamb sausages must be great. All the seedlings are doing well in the potting shed…thanks.

  37. I have heard a lot about this soup but never tasted it. Your looks wonderful, especially with the merguez aside 😉 (I looove merguez! we are lucky to have them at every single French butcher’s).

    1. Hi Sissi, I do think you would enjoy this soup…it is delicious. I agree with you about merguez…you are so lucky to be able to get it so easily.

  38. I am not familiar with Moroccan food and feel a bit shame. I think I’ve heard of Harira before but never had a chance to taste it. I was reading the recipe and it looks quite easy to make and sounds very delicious! This could be my first Moroccan food that I make!

  39. I love dishes like this that are so flavorful, healthy and filling all in one. Love all of the spices in Moroccan food. The Moroccan restaurant at Epcot was my favorite and ever since we ate there I have craved Moroccan food!

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