Harira is an authentic Moroccan soup made of tomato, lentils, and chickpeas, but it can also include meat, making it a filling and satisfying dish.
Like many traditional foods, there are many variations and recipes of this soup that are passed down from generation to generation.
Some versions, as I’ve learned researching this hearty food, feature broken pieces of vermicelli and something called smen—a preserved butter with a Parmesan-like taste.
Legume is a bit of an outdated term traditionally used to refer to lentils, beans, and chickpeas, etc.
The correct term is pulse; the dried edible seed of certain plants in the legume family. While the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognizes 11 types of legumes grown worldwide, at least in North America, the main types tend to be lentils, dry peas and beans, and chickpeas.
Other foods in the legume family include soybeans, peanuts, fresh peas, and fresh beans. The term pulses ONLY refer to the dried seed. Soybeans and peanuts are also not considered pulses because they have a much higher fat content, whereas pulses are almost fat-free.
This soup has lentils! Did you know? Canada is the world’s largest exporter of pulses; 80% of what’s grown in Canada is exported.
Lentils are healthy food despite what you may have heard re: the paleo crowd and their concern for antinutrients etc. Lentils can easily be part of a healthy diet.
For those with metabolic issues, including blood sugar management issues, pulses like lentils are still rich in starch (glucose). So while their fiber and protein intake may blunt increases in blood sugar after they’re consumed compared to potatoes or rice, they’re still a high carb food and need to be seen in that light.
Still, lentils do play a part in healthy eating. They are a good source of protein, fiber, potassium, folate, iron, manganese and magnesium.
Chickpeas are in the same camp as lentils and are also included in this soup! They are protein-rich plants, more so than grains, or nuts and seeds but again, most of their calories come from carbohydrate so they’re best seen as such.
Like lentils, they’re rich in protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Including beef to this recipe really helps the nutritional profile to take off.
The amino acids in the lentils and chickpeas are not complete; they don’t contain all 9 essential amino acids in optimal amounts but the addition of beef, with its high-quality protein “, lends” some of its amino acids to improve the protein quality of the lentils and chickpeas.
As well, the form of iron in beef increases the absorption of the iron in the pulses. That’s because nutrients in animal foods are absorbed better, more efficiently, than they are from plant foods.
100 g of bee has:
- about 300 calories
- 29 g protein
- 18.5 g fat
- 200 mg of ALA omega 3
- 450 mg of omega 6
- 2 mcg vitamin B12
- 4 mg vitamin B3 (niacin)
- 110 mg choline
- 2.5 mg iron
- 175 mg phosphorus
- 232 mg potassium
- 6.7 mg zinc
- 27 mg of selenium
Harira ultimately hearty soup/stew-like meal which makes a filling lunch or dinner.
Although it can, and is, served year-round, it is particularly popular during Ramada when it is served to break the fast (iftar) at the end of the day.
Moroccan Harira Soup
- 1 lb stewing beef cut into small 1/2 inch cubes*
- 1 onion diced
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 3 carrots chopped
- 1 cups canned chickpeas
- 1 cup canned lentils
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup orzo whole wheat pasta*
- 1 can of tomato paste 5.5oz
- 8 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock *
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1-2 cups fresh spinach coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger I used fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Heat oil in a large pot on medium. Saute the onion, celery and garlic until translucent.
Add beef, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, cumin and coriander to pot and stir to toast the spices and brown the beef. Approx. 2-3 minutes. You will smell the smokey aroma and know the spices are done.
Pour in vegetable stock, carrots, chickpeas, lentils and tomato paste and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes to bring the flavours together.
Add the orzo pasta and let cook 8-10 minutes. Soup will thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste (or if you can not taste it while you are fasting, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper and then season it to your taste at the table).
Finely chop the fresh parsley and cilantro. Save a bit for garnish. Roughly chop a handful of spinach and add to pot with the herbs. Once spinach has wilted your soup is done.
Ladle into bowls and serve with harissa* for a kick and a lemon wedge for zest. Enjoy.