February 11, 2012

vegan harira, harira, moroccan soup, vegan soup, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

I wonder about the exact origins of this soup. Most references trace it back to Morocco. It has a long and auspicious history including being the traditional soup Muslims eat to break the fasting day during the holy month of Ramadan. Each time I rinse my lentils and pick out the rocks, I think of those that might have had to do the same centuries ago. I’m sure there were those that did the picking, and those that definitely did NOT do the picking enjoying instead their sunny balconies in their djellaba and balgha overlooking the waves of one of the greatest seas on earth. This soup is like the sun. It makes me think of the desert, of the Mediterranean, of history, of ceremony, and of nourishment when one needs it most.

3 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, diced

4 medium carrots, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsps ginger

2 tsps turmeric

2 tsps cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

3 tbsps tomato paste

2 cups stewed tomatoes

5 cups vegetable or bean stock

1 bay leaf

2 tsps sea salt


2 cups chickpeas

1 cup brown lentils

juice from 1/2 lemon

parsley, chopped

cilantro, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté for another 2 – 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add spices and sauté over low heat until fragrant but be careful not to burn them.

Add the tomato paste and stir until it’s blended well. Slowly add the stewed tomatoes and stock stirring constantly until you have a smooth consistency. Add bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Add chickpeas, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until chickpeas begin to soften. Add lentils and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes longer or until chickpeas and lentils are cooked through.

Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro and parsley (or serve with chopped herbs on the side). Adjust seasoning and serve.

8 Responses to “harira”

  1. Glenn McInnes Says:

    Hi Ruth
    So now I expectantly wait for your Saturday recipe releases as well as Natalie MacLean’s Saturday LCBO wine releases:)
    I’m going to make this tomorrow.
    How many do you think it serves?

  2. Emily Says:

    This looks brilliant. Definitely need to make this one – may try doing that this afternoon. Finally tried the Kozelman’s maple mustard by the way…OUTTA SIGHT!

    Oh hey, I just noticed someone I know posted right above. Maybe will get him to deliver me some 🙂

  3. Glenn,
    This soup is definitely worth spending a saturday or sunday afternoon on! In fact while you’re in the kitchen and taking in the aromas you could make a double batch because it’s so tasty. The proportions above would serve 6 healthy bowls (almost like a meal), or 8 smaller servings. I served it as a starter for 4 and then Rebekah finished it off the next day. I wish I had made triple. It’s Andrew’s new favourite soup. Enjoy!

  4. Emily,
    I think you should put in an order 🙂 It’s pretty easy to make so even with a wee babe in arms you could whip up a batch pretty easily. Super nutritious for breat-feeding moms.

  5. When I went to Morocco, I had harira in nearly every city I visited and it was always slightly different. Some with meat, others vegetarian, some thick and some thin…. Gosh, I miss the one from my last riad. I should dig out her recipe and make it… it was one of those “add some ginger” kind of notes, though. 😉

    Your version looks great! 🙂

  6. Thanks Janet and if you do pull out a good recipe that’s vegan or easily veganized, sent it along. Always into new inspiration. Try this one out – hopefully it lives up to the true-blue Moroccan versions of your past 🙂

  7. This looks so delish! Sorry if this is a dumb question, are you using canned chickpeas? And dried or canned lentils? I know dried chickpeas take forever to cook so just want to make sure 🙂

    • Stacey,
      Thanks for the question! I use canned chickpeas most of the time for expediency’s sake but I used dried lentils. It is an awesome recipe – glad you found it and hope you enjoy!

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