Moroccan Harira (Lentil Soup)

5 from 5 votes

Healthy, hearty Harira is a soup of lentils, chickpeas, and warm spices in a rich, savory tomato broth. Topped with fresh herbs and served with sliced lemons, it’s a vibrant and refreshing Ramadan meal.

overhead photo of spoon in bowl of Moroccan lentil soup

The Muslim holiday of Ramadan is celebrated annually, during the 9th month on the Islamic calendar. In 2023, Ramadan runs from March 22 to April 21st. 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.

Harira (pronounced huh-rear-rah) is a Moroccan lentil soup traditionally served during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting (or sawm). But during the rest of the year, it remains a Moroccan favorite! 

And I completely understand why – the chickpeas, lentils and ground meat (completely optional), make it hearty and sturdy, while the smooth, seasoned tomato soup gives it the feel of a soothing comfort meal. 

Moroccan lentil soup is filled with ingredients that can be made in bulk and in advance. It’s also a great dish to throw together in a crockpot or pressure cooker for convenient weeknight meals. 

Pair with pita or bread (something crusty to soak up the broth) or a plate of fresh lemon slices, dates, or figs.  

If you’re still filling out your Ramadan menu, I’d recommend sweet Qatayef or Baghrir pancakes for dessert… or both! 

close up image of Moroccan harira


  • Chickpeas – Bear in mind that dried chickpeas will need to soak overnight, so plan ahead. Canned chickpeas are quick and easy to use, but be sure to drain first. 
  • Green Lentils – A unique legume that is both peppery and full of protein. Though firm, they soften quickly in Moroccan lentil soup and need no early preparation. 
  • Ground Turkey – This dish is traditionally made with lamb but suits any protein. I use ground turkey. Beef and chicken could also be used or keep it meat-free for a vegetarian soup. 
  • Celery & White Onion – Chop the celery, but break the onion down finely with a grater or food processor. You could also add carrots or other root vegetables.  
  • Tomato Puree – Crushed, canned tomatoes work as well. Go with the texture that you prefer. 
  • Ginger Paste – Mince a 1 inch piece of ginger if preferred. 
  • Cinnamon – Usually associated with sweets in the United States, warm and earthy cinnamon is great in savory stews. 
  • Paprika & Red Pepper Flakes Either one of these seasonings can be replaced with cayenne, chili powder, or chili flakes. 
  • Turmeric – I’ve seen some recipes use food coloring to get the classic hue, but peppery, lemony turmeric is all you need to achieve this. 
  • Saffron – Subtly, delicately sweet. If unavailable, replace with a bit more turmeric. 
  • Chicken Broth Any other broth can be subbed in. 
overhead photo shows two bowls of tomato based soup with chickpeas and lentils

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. You can read all about how to cook chickpeas and the different methods in a post I wrote recently here.

For this recipe, cover 3/4 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.

side view: close up of Moroccan harira

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.


  1. Brown the Meat. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in your Dutch oven or pot. Add the ground meat and stir until browned. 
  2. Add the Vegetables. Drop the pureed or canned tomatoes, grated onion, chopped celery, and ginger paste into the pot. Stir it all together and cook for 5 minutes. 
  3. Add Remaining Ingredients & Cook. Add all of the remaining herbs and spices along with the chicken broth, chickpeas, and lentils. Increase the heat. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for an additional 24 minutes, stirring every once in a while and scraping along the bottom to prevent any sticking. 

Serve. Serve while hot with lemon slices and topped with the fresh cilantro and parsley. It can also be served with bread.

overhead: Moroccan harira soup in white bowl with spoon

Q&A: Common Questions

How should I store leftover lentil soup?

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.

What do you eat with Harira?

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.

What is harira soup made of?

It is traditionally prepared with lamb and seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. It’s also usually topped with fresh herbs like the cilantro and parsley we use here. 

There are many regional variations to this dish. Some thicken the broth with eggs, some add rice, and some include fava beans. Some recipes also include smen, a Moroccan preserved butter.

Can harira be made vegan?

Yes. The meats can easily be left out with no real sacrifice to flavor. To maintain the same heartiness and meatiness, you could add in chopped mushrooms or use tofu – though these are not traditional ingredients. You can also compensate with more lentils and chickpeas.

How can I thicken harira?

You could pulse the soup a few times using an immersion blender or pour a third into a blender, puree and pour back into the soup. A slurry of cornstarch and water (equal parts) can be added in small amounts to thicken the soup. Some recipes already induce a flour and water mixture to thicken Moroccan lentil soup, though this does have an effect on flavor.

Where does the word harira come from?

Harira in Arabic means silk. The name simply describes the smooth, silky texture of the broth – and the description is very accurate!

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Moroccan Harira (Lentil Soup)

5 from 5 votes
Harira is a popular Moroccan lentil soup served during Ramandan. Watch and learn how to make a richly seasoned tomato soup in just an hour!
Servings: 6
Prep: 16 minutes
Cook: 34 minutes
Total: 50 minutes



  • 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.



  1. If using dried chickpeas you will need to plan ahead. Cover 3/4 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.
  2. Feel free to substitute lamb, beef or chicken, diced instead of ground turkey.
  3. Grate the onion or process it to a thick pulp in a food processor.


Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 586mg | Potassium: 1062mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1320IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 5mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Moroccan
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image for Pinterest shows closeup image of harira - Moroccan Lentil Soup from Silk Road Recipes


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Hi Kevin,
    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 🍋?

  2. 5 stars
    Lentils are my favorite, This one is so good, it’s very filling and makes for a tasty comfort meal on a cold evening.

      1. hello Kevin!
        Im planning to make this in a few days. have you ever switched out the green lentils for red or brown? it’s what I have in the pantry! what do you think?

        1. If I were to choose it would be the brown as the red tend to almost melt. I prefer a little texture.

  3. 5 stars
    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