Harira Style Soup

You know when you buy a new cookbook and it´s full of lovely recipes, but the reality is you probably won´t cook that many of them and feel a bit let down? Mmm, yes, we´ve probably all been there. Well, not so with my new Ottolenghi book. In fact, I had intended to leave it in the UK to use when we return in a few weeks to start work on the house renovation. But it kept whispering to me, “take me with you, take me with you”, so back to Spain it came and I have been cooking from it already with plans for many more dishes.

First up was Harira, a Moroccan soup made with chickpeas and lamb. Yes, I´m trying to clear out my freezer a little before we leave, so out came a piece of lamb.  And you know how we love our chickpeas in Andalucía…it was meant to be. Of course, I made a few changes but I am sure Mr O won´t mind.

It´s not quite like other Harira soups I´ve made, but I was very pleased with the results. I think it would also be a very good vegetarian soup if you leave out the meat and use vegetable stock or water. I have also made this soup with rice and lentils also included.  This is a lovely recipe too from Robert Carrier.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

  • 200g dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda (I don´t know the quantities for using ready cooked, canned but I would imagine it would be at least double the weight)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 200g lamb fillet cut into 1cm dice (I used a piece of neck fillet on the bone which I cooked whole then pulled the cooked meat off and stirred into the soup
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I used 1 tsp)
  • 1kg tinned chopped tomatoes (I used about half this amount of my own tomatoes)
  • 1.2 litres of chicken stock or water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • A pinch of Saffron strands (I used a teaspoon of turmeric)
  • I also added 1 tsp each of cinnamon and hot chili powder
  • 100g baby spinach (I used chopped chard from the veggie garden)
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander (didn´t have any, so omitted)
  • 4-6 lemon wedges
  • Salt and Pepper


Cook the chickpeas in plenty of water until completely tender (about an hour or an hour and a half), drain and reserve.

In a large saucepan over a medium heat, gently fry the onion until translucent. Increase the heat and add the lamb and fry until sealed.

At this point I added the spices (Mr O does this later in his version). Now add the tomato purée, and sugar, cook for a couple of minutes then add the chopped tomato, drained chickpeas, liquid and a little seasoning.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 35-45 minutes until the meat is tender. Squeeze in a little lemon juice (I didn´t add it all at this stage as per the recipe) and this is where Mr O adds his spices.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Just before serving, bring the soup back to the boil and add the finely chopped spinach (chard in my case) then remove from the heat. Serve with lemon wedges.

Very delicious, I may even spice it up a little more next time. And yes, the book will be coming with me again to the UK….it likes to travel.


70 thoughts on “Harira Style Soup

  1. This soup sounds delicious! It’s way too hot here to even think about making soup, but I’ll have to remember this recipe in the fall!

  2. This looks wonderful – very Moroccan, which isn’t far from you! I haven’t tried this one from his book, but I’m sure that, like you, I’ll make a few alterations to fit local conditions when I do….it’s very difficult to find coriander leaves here, except occasionally in tiny plastic-wrapped bunches. It’s something I’ve always failed to grow too. One thing I miss from when I lived in Oxford many years ago is the huge bunches of it sold in the Indian shops!

    1. Yes, Morocco isn´t so far -in fact we went last year just to Tangier (which I know is more European than Moroccan) and we had a wonderful time. I too used to be able to buy huge bunches of coriander in the Indian shops in Tooting…I miss them! Coriander doesn´t do well here either, it seems to bolt then dry up.

  3. Fabulous recipe – wonderful Moroccan flavours. I think I’m going to have to get Ottolenghi or I’m going to be one of the only cooks without it.

    1. I really can recommend the book I have, so many great recipes. I now have my eye on the other book “Perfect” and I think there´s another one coming out in October….oh dear, more spending 😉

  4. I’m not at all familiar with this soup, Tanya, but I sure wish I was. I don’t think I’ve ever had a lamb-based broth and that sounds delicious. Even so, Like you said, I bet this would make a great vegetarian soup, as well. With these ingredients, you really can’t go wrong. This cookbook sounds like it was a really good buy.
    And, by the way, that was me whispering, “take me with you, take me with you”. Do you really think an Ottolenghi cookbook would speak with an American accent? 🙂

    1. Hee hee, I thought it was a Chicago accent I could hear when I was expecting an Israeli one! If you ever get a chance, do make this (with or without lamb…but I think I´d use chicken stock as I´m not a veggie), it´s lovely 🙂

  5. I love this soup! Deborah Madison has a lovely vegetarian version of it in her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone book that I’ve enjoyed very much. Thanks for reminding me to make it again! 🙂

      1. It’s a great book and has been my “go-to” vegetarian inspiration for over a decade. I once wrote Deborah Madison asking for a recipe of hers that was not in the book but had been published in the NY Times many years ago. She wrote back saying, essentially, not to sweat the details and to create something equally delicious from memory, because she didn’t remember the recipe either! Happy cooking!

  6. I just recently found your blog and love it! Your recipes look so tasty and I can’t wait to try some of them out. I just recently bought a property in beautiful Andalucia, too, but for now it is just a “getaway” home. I do hope you publish your book to tell your story because I was reading your first few entries and am left wondering: well? what happened next!!

    1. Hi Lilianne and welcome! Glad you liked the recipes you´ve seen. Where have you bought your getaway home? How exciting! And yes, fingers crossed with the book, will keep you posted….the story did continue 🙂

      1. We bought just outside of Arboleas and we are just tickled pink! Where are you? I’ve been trying to chronicle the whole tale through a blog as well because friends and family are always asking “what’s the latest?” and I thought a blog would be a good way to keep them posted. Getting it set up and organized has been fun yet challenging… all the widgets and plugins make my head spin… haha!
        Yes, do keep me posted on the book. I’ve heard some people having luck self publishing on Kindle, maybe that would be something to look into 🙂

      2. Aha – you´re near Almeria. We´re in the north of Malaga province just before the Granada frontier so a few hours form you. Fingers crossed, am working with a publisher right now! Good luck with the blog and settling in – happy to help if I can.

  7. Perfect timing for our cold winter days. And I pretty much have all the ingredients at hand. I’ve just started making more recipes that include cumin; a spice I’ve not been familiar with before. I love it now.

  8. From the blog post title, I had a feeling there was something a bit Arab coming up. I’m not very familiar with Moroccan cuisine, but this looks really pleasant 🙂 All the best with your up coming adventure 😉

    1. Thanks Fati! Although this is not an Andalucían dish, much of our cooking here has a very strong Arab influence with the spices and flavours. Fusion I think it´s called now to be trendy!

  9. This looks and sound delicious, Tanya! I love the colour, it reminds me of a Tuscan Bean Soup from the Avoca Cook Book… but spicier and meatier!

  10. Never count a cookbook out…some sit on the shelf for years, then suddenly become a favorite!
    That soup sounds amazing…we’ll keep it in mind for when the cooler weather arrives. Hot soup would be a hard sell around here right now 😀

  11. Ottolenghi’s book whispered at me too Tanya until I had to bring it home. It’s luscious isn’t it? (I also have his book that’s vegetarian dishes too and love it.) this soup is so pretty and so chock full of good ingredients I’ve got to try it (but no lamb here.)

  12. Looks so delicious Chica! I think I’d love this vegetarian too. Now you’ve peaked my interest, I’ll have to look up the author of this cookbook. 🙂

  13. What an exotic sounding and looking soup, and I love all the flavors with the chickpeas and the lamb. I love chickpeas in anything…maybe I have some Spanish blood! 😉 I need to look up this cookbook, it sounds like a great read with wonderful recipes.

  14. Hi Chica, I love this kind of soup – made one last year… nice bit of chilli for some kick. The lamb is my favourite though… just really gives such a fantastic flavour to the soup. I really love the look of yours. A beautiful hearty meal!

  15. Itis a great book and this soup looks perfect for our winter here or a UK summer ;0) must dig the book out again.

  16. My ex-father in law used to make very thick soup that he called “Stewp” and that, my dear looks like a well hearty bowl of stewp that could only be enhanced by an enormous teetering tower of crusty bread and butter…this one is going into the “must cook” list 😉

  17. Delicious, hearty recipe Chica!!! You are right, we have many cookbooks that we never get the time to try all their recipes! Yet there is that “one cookbook” that we are so affectionate to it, that it has many “cooking” marks!!

  18. LOL! I read that as “Hair” Style Soup and was intrigued. Despite my myopia this looks amazing. Gotta make it!

    1. Last night at the fiesta I was convinced the band had three guys and two girls singing. Turns out one of the “girls” was actually a tall loud speaker and not a young woman in a long black dress. I wondered why she wasn´t moving much….that´ll teach me not to be vain and to wear my specs in public!

  19. I love it when a book speaks to you. I think it will be well traveled over the next couple of years. Your first soup sounds terrific.

  20. Ottolenghi is a genius – brilliant cook book staples for me – the sweet potato gratin and the chicken with hazlenut and honey plus the green bean salad. You will love this book!!!!!! See you soon B

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