Clay's Kitchen : Moroccan Recipes

Moroccan Recipes

© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA

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Hajar's Harira (Chickpea Soup)

Recipe from: Adapted from recipe by Hajar Ana L'Maghrebia

The National Soup of Morocco. Served each night at sundown to break the Ramadan Fast.

There are as many recipes for harira as there are people who eat it though there are essentials. The beans and lentils, cilantro, tomato and pasta of some sort. This is my own recipe based on ingredients and flavors which I enjoyed from other hariras. Harira is eaten all year, not only at Ramadan though it would not be Ramadan without it! This soup along with others is used traditionally for breakfast at sunset. This would be a first course served with accompaniments and bread before moving on to heavier foods. Many break fast with milk and dates; a very old tradition and I doubt that they knew way back when that the combination of natural sugar and the milk protein were a near perfect combination. Some find this a bit too rough for the first thing in the stomach. While harira is the national soup of Morocco, history tells that this is not a Moroccan invention but an invention of the Maghreb of which Morocco is a part. This recipe may look truly daunting though it really isn't. In our house the first course on the table is always either harira, chorba, or one of my stews; usually chicken, dates, pistachios and fruit. Then after that settles we move on to a normal main course without the use of garlic as it is forbidden during Ramadan. Before bed we will usually have a pot of tea and a rice pudding, dessert couscous or just the tea. Shebakia, the very honey sweet Ramadan sesame cookies are always here though we prefer to have them with coffee and not necessarily daily.

1 cup whole dried fava beans
1 cup dried garbanzo beans
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
3 cups onions minced
½ pound lamb cut in small pieces
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons sweet paprika — the best most vibrant you can find
½ teaspoon nutmeg, finely ground
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, finely ground
¾ cup tomato paste
1 large lemon
½ cup flour
½ cup flat leaf parsley chopped
¼ cup coriander leaves chopped
1 cup lentils soaked for 1 hour in cold water and drained
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups vermicelli broken into ¼ inch pieces
4 medium lemon wedges

Rinse and pick over fava beans if you can't get these then use dried broad/lima/butter beans and chickpeas. Soak overnight in water to cover. Quick soak method; place beans in large soup pot and add 2 litres hot water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and soak beans for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Squeeze each fava bean and chickpea between your thumb and first two fingers to remove skins. Set aside.

In large soup pot over medium heat, cook the onions and meat (chicken can be used as well as beef or no meat at all though NEVER pork) stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and transluscent.

Add turmeric, ginger, paprika and 2 litres water. Cover and bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add fava beans, chickpeas and cook, covered, until beans are tender. 1 to 1 ½ hours epending on your beans. Finely chop together tomatoes, parsley and cilantro. Add this mixture along with the tomato paste, the lentils, pepper, juice of the lemon and drop in ½ of the squeezed lemon and salt to taste. Cover and cook until lentils are tender 20 to 25 minutes.

Bring back to the boil and make a fairly thick slurry (flour and water) with the ½ cup of flour. Add this to the boiling soup stirring very briskly to avoid lumps. Boil one minute stirring constantly. Add nutmeg and caraway. Bring the soup to medium heat, you just want a nice slow bubbling.

Add pasta (orzo or small soup pasta can be used as well though I always prefer vermecelli) and cook until soft. Taste and add salt to taste and adjust pepper. When soup is heated through, ladle harira into individual soup bowls. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, Moroccan flat bread or crusty french baquette. This soup should be velvety, not overly thick.

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