Last Updated: 2021-01-28
4 SERVINGS MODERATE 281 CAL ENTRÉE 80 MIN (25 MIN PREP + 55 MIN COOK TIME)
I can’t accept that we shouldn’t eat certain foods at specific times of the year, like ice cream—my weakness. Near my home there is an ice cream parlor that I love and as winter gets closer they start reminding me that they’ll soon be closing because, as they say, “it’s no longer ice cream season”. It’s a bummer, but at least that’s one less thing to expand my waistline over the holidays.
Many say that today’s recipe is ideal for winter, but in reality harira is fabulous any time of the year. The first time I made it was a sweltering Spanish summer in Seville, when it was 100 degrees (40°C) in the shade. I made it with the help of Fati, a Moroccan friend of mine from Tetouan, just the way her mom taught her, which I’ll share with you in this post.
Let’s get started!
3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (800 g)
7 ounces (200 g) of beef
1 celery stalk
1 handful of parsley
⅝ cup (100 g) of cooked chickpeas
⅜ cup (80 g) of lentils (soaked overnight)
A handful of vermicelli (broken into 3 inch segments)
Spices to taste. I usually use a a small teaspoon of the following: ginger, cumin, ras el hanout and paprika
2 tablespoons of flour
34 ounces (1 L) of water
Olive oil and salt
1 Remove the tomato seeds, blend the tomato and the chopped celery into a puree. Next, cut both the beef and the carrots into small cubes that can be easily eaten with a spoon.
2 Place the items from step one into a pot and add oil at mid heat until it starts to boil. Then, add a glass of water, parsley (fine chopped), salt, and the spices. Cook for 15 minutes.
3 While everything is cooking, peel the cooked chickpeas. It’s not fun, but it has to be done. As boring as it may be, we cannot skip this step if we want to get the typical harira texture.
4 After cooking, add the peeled chickpeas, the lentils and 18 ounces (½ liter) of water. Let it boil for another 20 minutes.
5 Dissolve the flour in a glass of cold water and add the noodles to the soup. It’s important to constantly stir to avoid clumping. You can adjust the amount of flour to taste. Add more if you want a thicker soup, but don’t go overboard, otherwise the soup could have a dry mouthfeel.
One more piece of advice: if you’re planning on eating your Harira the next day, don’t add too many noodles because they’ll absorb too much of the broth and it won’t be as tasty.
Harira lends itself to creative adaptations and there are as many variations as there are families in Morocco. It’s closely linked to the culture and is very popular. Flour and spices can be adjusted to make it more or less thick or spicy. Some people prefer it with more or less vegetables, removing some, such as carrots, or adding others, such as turnips or zucchini.
The same goes for meat. You can use any type. With or without chickpeas, rice instead of noodles… the possibilities are endless, and I’m sure that you’ll end up creating your own recipe if you want to.
Harira is most important in Morocco during Ramadan and is often the first food of choice in the evening after a day of fasting. The reason, as is the case with so many things, is found both in tradition and in science, since harira is a very complete food that helps those who have fasted to recover the nutrients they’ve missed throughout the day.
In conclusion, harira is a very simple, balanced dish made with ingredients found in almost any kitchen. So now you know, if you want to enrich your daily diet with a comforting alternative to chicken noodle soup, put harira in your life. Much love to all and see you all in the next post!
If you want to learn more check out our page on traditional Moroccan dishes.