Moroccan Harira Soup

Renowned among the Moroccan dishes, the Harira spicy soup has its roots in the old Muslim parts of the region, it is traditionally used to break the fasting of the Ramadan. The secret of this dish is found in the special spice-mixture knows as Ras-el-Hanout.

Every Balabusta in Morocco prides herself in her own unique Ras-el-Hanout recipe. Click here for a basic home-made recipe of this wonderful spice-mixture.

Another unique Moroccan ingredient in this soup is the fermented butter known as Smen. Since dairy products are a rarity in the Moroccan cuisine, the historical main purpose of the Smen was having a fatty-ingredient with long shelf life (not unlike the East-European Schmaltz or the Indian Ghee).

Lastly, a local soup-thickener called Tedouira. It is a fermented combination of water, flour, yeast, tomato paste, lemon juice and herbs. It should be made an hour or two before the main preparation of the soup.

And now, for the Moroccan Harira soup:

Ingredients for Tedouira:

• 1 cup of white flour
• 2 cups of water
• 7 gram dry yeast
• 1 tsp tomato paste
• 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp Ras-el-Hanout

Main Ingredients:

• 175 gram dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
• 175 gram brown lentils, soaked overnight
• 2-3 soup bones (specifically leg joints, like knee)
• 400 gram meat (beef or lamb) diced in 2 cm cubes or a couple of chicken legs
• 3 tbs vegetable oil
• 2 celery stalks (including leaves), chopped
• 3 medium onions, grated
• 2 carrots, grated
• 5 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 kg of ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
• 2 tbs Ras-el-Hanout
• 2 tbs Smen
• 2 tbs tomato paste
• 4 liters of boiled water
• 100 gram vermicelli noodles or wholemeal rice
• 3 tbs honey
• Salt and ground pepper
• Fresh parsley bunch, chopped
• Fresh coriander bunch, chopped
• A fresh lemon wedge for each dish


Mix the Tedouira’s ingredients (flour, water, yeast, tomato paste, lemon juice and Ras-el-Hanout) in a bowl, cover with plastic sheet and keep in a warm place for one hour.

Wash the parsley and coriander thoroughly, and let them dry. A few minutes before their use - chop them and discard the big stalks.

There are 2 ways to prepare the bones:

1. Traditionally, you can roast them on a grill-form in a preheated oven (220C) for 15-25 minutes. Then, you add them together with the tomatoes. The roasting will give the soup a ‘smokey’ flavor. In this recipe we will go with this ‘traditional style’.

2. Add them in the start of the cooking, together with the meat (you can leave it with the rest of the vegetables).

Warm up a big pot (6 liter minimum) for a few minutes, add the oil and the meat, wait till it gets browned all around and transfer to a separate dish. Add to the big pot (do not clean it, use the residue of oil and meat fat) the onions, saute for 2-3 minutes, add celery and carrots, saute for 2-3 minutes, add Garlic and saute for 1 minute, add tomatoes, browned meat, chickpeas, lentils, Ras-el-Hanout, Smen, tomato paste and water. Cover and bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours.

10 minutes before the end, add the honey, herbs and use a hand-blender to puree the soup a bit (leave a bit of chunks). 5 minutes before the end, add the vermicelli noodles (if using wholemeal rice - add it 20 minutes before the time ends, you should still add the honey and herbs 5 minutes before the end). Stir well and when its finished, you can carefully add the Tedouira mixture in a slow stream, while stirring, until you reach a preferable texture (an alternative for the Tedouira - 3 eggs beaten and added to the soup while stirred constantly, until it will stabilize).

Serve with a wedge of lemon in each bowl.

Besseha! (Bon Appetit in Moroccan)

by: Amit Rabin



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