Moroccan Harira is a healthy soup with ground turkey, legumes, and fresh herbs and African spices. Make this lentil soup for a Ramadan meal!
The Muslim holiday of Ramadan is celebrated annually, during the 9th month on the Islamic calendar. In 2021, Ramadan runs from April 12 to May 12th. It’s a time of prayer, and fasting occurs daily from dawn to sunset every day of the month.
There are strict rules about fasting during Ramadan, but a pre-dawn meal is allowed and encouraged, as are meals after the sun has set.
Because the body requires nutrients to help it function, it’s important that meals eaten during the holiday be as nutrient-rich as possible. For this reason, Moroccan Harira is a perfect Ramadan recipe!
Traditionally, the soup includes rice, lentils and chickpeas. Instead, this version includes just chickpeas and lentils. With the addition of a lean protein, in this case, ground turkey, it’s also very nourishing and quite filling.
Ingredients in Moroccan harira
- Legumes- Traditionally, the legumes in this West African soup recipe are lentils and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). We recommend using green lentils, as they hold their shape better than white lentils or red, which tend to become mushy in stews and soups. Black lentils would be fine, too.
- Protein- Ground turkey is what this recipe calls for, but feel free to use ground chicken, lamb, or even beef if you prefer it. If you want larger pieces of meat, you could use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs as a substitute for ground meat.
- Vegetables- The base of any good soup, we use celery, onion, and tomatoes in our Moroccan harira. If you'd like to add other vegetables, some diced carrot would be a delicious addition. You'll also need some ginger paste or a bit of fresh ginger.
- Stock or broth- If you'll be using turkey or chicken, opt for chicken stock for the best flavor. If lamb or beef are used, go with beef stock. To keep the recipe vegetarian, use vegetable broth.
- Spices- In addition to sea salt and black pepper, there are some extremely aromatic (and healthy!) spices in the lentil soup! Cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, parika, and crushed red pepper flakes. The soup isn't particularly spicy, but feel free to adjust the spiciness by increasing or decreasing the pepper flakes to suit your taste preferences.
- Fresh herbs- The addition of parsley and cilantro compliment and round out the flavor of this amazing Ramadan recipe!
Using dry chickpeas
For easy prep and shorter cook time, feel free to use canned chickpeas. Otherwise, you are welcome to soak and cook dry chickpeas instead.
Cover ¾ cup chickpeas with water by 2 inches and soak overnight. The next day, cook per package instructions, drain and set aside until you're ready to add them to the lentil soup.
Video: How to Make Moroccan Harira Lentil Soup
To watch the cooking process from start to finish, be sure to watch our recipe video. It's located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
The recipe comes together very easily.
- Saute the vegetables.
To help thicken the consistency of the soup, you can puree the onion in a blender or food processor before adding it to the pan.
- Brown the meat (if using).
After a couple of minutes, when the vegetables are slightly soft, add the meat and continue cooking until it's browned.
- Add stock and seasonings.
After the liquid and seasonings are in the pot, bring everything to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and simmer to allow the flavors to blend.
Q&A: Common Questions
Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator, and use them or freeze them within 5 days. If frozen, the soup should keep well for up to 3 months.
If you're serving this meal during a regular meal, you can serve it with a side of flatbread or whole wheat pita. During Ramadan, the lentil soup is traditionally on the iftar table accompanied by refreshing beverages.
The best choices are drinks that will help to replenish the body, such as water, tea, juice, and fruit purées thickened with avocado.
Additionally, you may want to serve it with some additional protein, such as hard-boiled eggs or cheese, and possibly some fresh fruit.
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Moroccan Harira (Lentil Soup)
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (See Note 1)
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1 lb ground turkey (See Note 2)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 15 oz tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
- 1 white onion (See Note 3)
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste or 1 inch piece, minced
- ½ cup fresh chopped parsley reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish
- ¾ cup fresh chopped cilantro reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 lemons
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven add the olive oil and sauté the ground turkey and brown. Add the tomatoes, onion, chopped celery, ginger paste. Stir and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the herbs, spices, chicken broth, chickpeas and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and allow to cook for 24 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid any sticking on bottom.
- Serve with lemon wedges (optional) and top with some reserved chopped parsley and cilantro. Feel free to serve with warm bread, lavash or flat bread of choice.
- If using dried chickpeas you will need to plan ahead. Cover ¾ cup chickpeas with water by 2 inches and soak overnight. Next day, cook per package instructions, drain and set aside. Otherwise use 15 oz canned, drained chickpeas.
- Feel free to substitute lamb, beef or chicken, diced instead of ground turkey.
- Grate the onion or process it to a thick pulp in a food processor.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
I live in Perth Australia and have enjoyed your Silk Road emails and recipes. I lived in Algeria 1975 to 1980. There were food shortages at the time and we had to make do with what we could find. However I cook North African dishes quite often. Most of my family is vegetarian (annoying) but I do make them amazing food when they come over for a meal.
Thank you for your wonderful emails and recipes.
PS do you have a recipe for preserved lemons 🍋?
Thank you for the kind words, Elfrida! Yes, on my other food site, Kevin is Cooking, I have a recipe for Moroccan preserved lemons. It's scheduled to be moved here to Silk Road Recipes later this year. 🙂
Lentils are my favorite, This one is so good, it's very filling and makes for a tasty comfort meal on a cold evening.
Thanks Dave, this one packs in the flavor and is indeed filling.
will be making this soon with few subs perfect for hot and raining days in Singapore will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya
Thanks Ramya, always enjoy hearing from you. Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!