Jul 11, 2019

Middle Eastern Harira Soup ~ Plant-based and Oil-free!


This savory, spicy, hearty soup is native to Morocco. Though eaten throughout the year, Harira is the most commonly eaten food during the fasting month of Ramadan. An estimated ninety-nine percent of Moroccans eat Harira every day during the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan. No wonder it’s Morocco’s national soup!

There are a couple of unusual ingredients that are traditional to this soup, but if you can’t find them, don’t worry; it’s just as yummy without them! BUT, if you go the extra measure and hunt down these uncommon additions you will be rewarded with the most authentic and unique flavor imaginable! The spices I am referring to are sumac and black lemon.

Sumac is pretty easy to come by. Most Asian stores carry it. I found it on Amazon (see link above). Sumac has a lovely, dark red to purple color and a tart flavor that is reminiscent of vinegar or lemon. It is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking.

Black lemon, on the other hand, is quite rare but I was able to find it online (again, see link above). Its name is a misnomer, as it’s actually a lime that has been dried. It’s such a funny ingredient as it’s pitch black and quite hard. I use mine by breaking one of them apart and pulverizing it in my spice blender. Black lemons have an extraordinary sweet-tart property and lend a very complex, deep flavor to any dish. NOTE: Keep your black lemons in an airtight jar with a couple of desiccant packets to keep them from taking on too much moisture from any ambient humidity.

Okay, let’s get to this tasty recipe! You can use any kinds of veggies you prefer in this soup. I usually use red bell peppers, celery, carrots, onions and mushrooms. Sometimes I add cauliflower. The base is made of lentils and tomato. Think of it as a Middle Eastern kicked-up lentil soup. Give it a try and don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off… it’s worth every effort. 🙂 

Healthy trails,





Vegetable Harira Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: about 3 quarts

A flavorful, spicy Middle Eastern treat in a bowl!


  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped parsley, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 can (1½ cups) cooked chickpeas
  • 2 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBS freshly grated ginger
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika
  • 1 TBS coriander seed powder
  • 1 TBS sumac powder
  • 1 tsp ground black lemon
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste (I don't use much salt, I added about 1/2 tsp)


  1. Place all ingredients in a soup pot EXCEPT the tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric and parsley (see note).
  2. Simmer until all veggies are tender (about 20 minutes).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the fresh parsley and simmer for another 20 minutes. You can let it simmer for hours and the flavors will just get better!
  4. Just before you are ready to serve it, add the parsley. This keeps the parsley fresh, green and full of flavor.
  5. Garnish with some extra parsley and a sprinkle of sumac if desired.
  6. Enjoy!


TIP!! When cooking soups, especially beans, it's always best to add any tomato ingredients LAST, after the beans and veggies have cooked. This is because the acidity in tomatoes can tighten up the structure of beans and veggies and slow (or in some cases, even prevent) complete softening of of the other ingredients. Turmeric can do the same thing, though I am not sure why.

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