Harira is Morocco’s famous tomato and lentil soup. It’s fragrantly seasoned with ginger, pepper, and cinnamon, and also boasts a robust quantity of fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, celery and onion.
Although made throughout the year, harira is best-loved by Moroccans during the month of Ramadan when it’s frequently served to break the fast at sunset. Some families also enjoy eating harira at suhoor, the meal taken in the early morning hours before a day’s fasting officially begins.
Recipes vary greatly from one family to another. Some make the soup light in texture; others prefer a filling version with chick peas and rice or broken vermicelli. One Moroccan cook may favor more tomato; another more lentils; still another may add paprika.
Smen, a preserved butter with a distinctive, Parmesan-like taste, is an optional ingredient, as is fresh lemon juice. But no matter what the family prefers, almost all choose to thicken harira’s rich broth with either eggs or flour.
Modern Kitchen Techniques and Tips
The traditional method of making harira requires considerable preparation and cooking time, but many cooks use a food processor and pressure cooker to speed up the process. In addition, many families prep large quantities of the ingredients in advance and freeze them so that the soup can be made on short notice.
A harira soup mix is available in some Middle Eastern markets and on grocery store shelves in Morocco, but shy away from it. Instead, start gathering the fresh ingredients to make your own harira from scratch. As they say in Morocco—bssah’ha!—to your health!