Moroccan harira soup is a soup that you’ll find literally allover Morocco. It’s enjoyed every night during Ramadan and is also made throughout the year as a light dinner. Fresh tomatoes are slowly stewed in a beefy broth, herbs and spices and it makes a hearty, healthy, satisfying soup!
Just about every family in Morocco has a different recipe for this soup. You’ll find a slight variations in ingredients, flavor and appearance, but you always find a base of beef and onion, spices, parsley and cilantro and at least a couple of pounds of tomatoes.
Harira is served along with dates and lots of sweets every night during the month of Ramadan. Throughout the rest of the year, it shows up as a light dinner. Like many soups, harira is even more rich in flavor the next day. I’ve even seen it served with breakfast along with some rghaif or traditional Moroccan crepes (which I used to love with some Laughing Cow cheese!) I know soup for breakfast sounds a little odd, but it’s such a nutritious, soothing way to start the day.
The soup gets started by sauteeing cubed beef and an extra large onion in oil. Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, you add the water, turmeric, ginger, a cinnamon stick, celery. chick peas and lentils. I’ve sometimes seen dried fava beans in harira which I loved! I need to add some next time. You can use dried chick peas or canned. If you use dried chick peas, be sure to soak them the night before.
While the beef is simmering away, peel your tomatoes. You should use at least two pounds. To peel my tomatoes, I like to cut an x in the bottoms of my tomatoes and drop them one at a time in boiling water for about 20 seconds. Makes them so much easier to peel!
Once peeled and deseeded, put them all in a blender (or in a “molinex” which is the word for blender in Moroccan Arabic). 🙂 Pour the tomatoes into a large pot on the stove and simmer on low. You’ll add some salt, pepper, chopped parsley and cilantro, and tomato concentrate. Once the beef and chick peas are cooked through, add the tomato mixture.
To thicken the soup, I whisk some flour in water and pour that into the soup. Make sure the flour mixture is free of lumps before pouring it in the soup. Add pasta during the last few minutes. If you have smen, or preserved butter, add that towards the end as well. Smen has a strong smell and tastes a little like cheese. I think it adds a lot of taste to the soup and recommend using it if you can get your hands on some!
I hope you enjoy this hearty, delicious harira soup recipe! It’s perfect year round and can go on your healthy but delicious food list!
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Make this healthy from scratch recipe for Moroccan tomato beef soup. It’s homemade, hearty, and delicious!
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 pound beef, chopped into small 1/2 inch cubes
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 8 cups water, divided
- 2 stalks celery, leaves included, chopped
- 3/4 cup dried chick peas, soaked and drained or canned and drained
- 3/4 cup dried lentils, washed and drained
- 6–7 tomatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and blended
- 1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon parsley and cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup crushed vermicelli or acini di pepe
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon smen (aged butter), optional
- In a large pot, saute the onions and meat in the oil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the onions are tender and the meat browns, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ginger, turmeric, the cinnamon stick, some salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, chick peas, lentils, celery, 7 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until the meat is cooked and the chick peas and lentils are tender.
- When the meat mixture is about halfway cooked, place the peeled, seeded tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the tomatoes into a large pot and gently cook over low heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the tomato concentrate, the chopped parsley and cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and warm through.
- When the meat mixture is cooked, whisk together the flour and 1 cup of water in a large mixing bowl. Pour the flour mixture into the tomato mixture and stir nonstop until flour is incorporated. Pour the tomato mixture into the beef mixture. Stir well to combine. Add the pasta and cook an additional 10 minutes.
- Adjust salt and add a bit more ginger and turmeric if desired. Stir in smen (if using) and top with additional parsley and cilantro.
*Add salt as you go and to taste and adjust salt once cooked. Add additional pinch of ginger and turmeric during the last 10 minutes of cooking, if desired, depending on taste.