Earlier this week I received this email from my mom:

I’m planning to make Harira soup today, it is a hearty legume soup from North Africa. My mom used to make the soup to end the Yom Kippur fast. I make it whenever the weather calls for it, either with bite size lamb or vegetarian. It calls for chickpeas, one can go the lengthy process of soaking the chickpeas over night and then cook them for an hour or so before adding it to the soup or simply open a can. What version would you prefer?

I asked her for both versions. Here’s her reply:

We just finished eating the Harira I’ve made today, it came out so good that this is the recipe for this week, just as I prepared it.
I prefer to soak and cook the chickpeas, however, it requires planning.
Omit the meat for a vegetarian version.


A few things:

This stew is very lamb-y. If you’re not totally into lamb, I recommend leaving it out. We’re both big fans and licked our bowls clean. Paul-Jean loved this stew and remarked several times how excited he is about this blog. About the soup, he said (and I quote) “it warms my very soul”.

This is a time-consuming recipe. It’s wonderful and worth it, but give yourself at least 2-3 hours on a relaxed day.

Dried chickpeas typically take 1-1.5 hours to cook if you soak them overnight. I learned today that if you have chickpeas that have sat in your cupboard for 7 years(!), you can cook them, but it’ll take over 2.5 hours, and some will still be a little crunchy. Note to self, don’t do that again. Cooking chickpeas was surprisingly easy, so I’ll definitely need to try making them from scratch with fresher chickpeas.



Moroccan Harira

Serves 6-8

1 cup dried chickpeas soaked over night or
1 14oz canned chick peas
1 lb lamb, grass fed preferably (I used shoulder) cut into bite size
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 ts. ground ginger
1 ts. turmeric
1 3” cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 celery stalks coarsely chopped
1 med. carrot coarsely chopped
6 cups water
1 cup small brown lentils (soaked for about 1 hour)
2 med. ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
sea salt and pepper to taste
zhoug or harissa (optional)

If using soaked chickpeas, drain and transfer to a saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook until tender, from 40-90 minutes, depending on chickpeas.
Combine the meat, onion and oil in a large heavy duty pot. Saute over medium heat until meat is brown and the onion is golden. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon.
Add bay leaf, celery and carrot and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour or so, until meat is tender.
Add drained lentils and tomatoes to the meat and continue cooking for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft.
Divide the chickpeas. Add 1/2 to the pot, place the other half in a blender with some soup broth and puree. Stir the pureed chick peas into the soup, add salt and pepper and mix well. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately, adding zhoug or harissa if desired.
I like adding a couple tablespoons of cooked brown basmati rice to my bowl.