Saturday, August 28, 2010

Harira Soup

During Ramadan this soup is eaten daily. The most noticeable flavors are the cilantro, tomato and ginger. The turmeric makes the soup turn a pretty orange color but doesn't really add any flavor. When I first saw the ingredients required for this soup I was a bit intimidated. I've made this soup probably hundreds of time and it is a piece of cake. One odd ingredient is the cinnamon, but this spice is very common in Middle Eastern cuisine. Usually, more is added, but I don't care for strong cinnamon flavor in savory food. I add a pinch of cinnamon to add more depth to the meal, but not enough to pick out while eating it. Also, two important notes, do not cook it past the stated cooking time. Some soups improve if they are cooked throughout the day, but this soup isn't one of them (at least not with this recipe). As for the second note, just keep in mind that the ingredients are approximate. When I cook this soup I just pour in the ingredients, I don't actually measure each spice. 

Begin by adding oil, onion and celery. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, then add the meat, allow it to brown, then add the chopped tomatoes.

Now that the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, add all of the spices (not the cilantro and parsley). Notice that the turmeric turned the soup orange! :)

Add the water, bouillon and tomato paste (optional). With 20 minutes left, add the lentils. With 10-15 minutes left add the cilantro and parsley. With 5 minutes left, add the noodles and chick peas. At the end, add the egg and stir well until cooked. Shut off the heat, add the lemon juice and stir.

All done! By the way, do not put orange soup in an orange bowl, it doesn't look pretty. haha! oops!


  • Beef for stew (maybe 1/2 lb)
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon of oil 
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (edit: 7/22/2012)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric 
  • A pinch of cinnamon 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
  • A big handful of cilantro and parsley, combined 
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, or 4-5 fresh tomatoes 
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato paste (optional) 
  • 1/4 cup of lentils 
  • 1/4 cup of vermicelli 
  • 5 cups of water and bullion cubes, or beef broth and no water 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 lemon 

Add the oil to a medium pot (enough to coat the bottom) and add the onion and celery. Let is cook for a few minutes, then add the beef, cook until browned (about 10 minutes). Add the tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes. Add all of the spices (not the cilantro and parsley). Let it cook for 5 more minutes and then add the water and bullion (usually 1 cube per cup) or beef broth and tomato paste. Let it cook for about an hour. Add the lentils and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the cilantro and parsley and let cook for 10 more minutes. Add the noodles and chick peas, cook for 5 minutes. Break an egg into a bowl and then add to the soup, stir well. The egg will cook through in a minute or less. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice. Stir and eat!

The cooking time should be about 2 hours, I wouldn't go over 2 1/2 or it will turn ucky.

Serves - 4-5 people

Note: If you want the soup to be authentic, you would add the cilantro and parsley in the beginning after the meat has browned. I did that for years and it worked just fine. However, the longer you cook herbs, the more flavor they lose. I steered away from the original recipe and started adding the cilantro and parsley towards the end. Both options work, but adding them at the end gives the soup more cilantro and parsley flavor. 

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