Vegan Harira (Moroccan Chickpea Soup)

Vegan Harira (Moroccan Chickpea Soup)

Last week Ramadan started, which means that Muslims around the world are fasting from sunrise until sunset. When the fast is broken in the evening, every country and perhaps every family has its own traditional dishes and snacks, which are cooked specifically in this period.

A few years ago, I was traveling around Morocco for 4 weeks. While I was there, Ramadan started, and I was lucky enough to share iftar (breakfast in the evening, after sunset) with a friend’s family when he invited me to join. While I had eaten many Moroccan foods at many Moroccan restaurants, this was the first time I experienced Moroccan home cooking, as well as iftar. The table was filled with many different dishes, but my favorite was a ‘simple’ bowl of soup.

This bowl of soup was harira, a Moroccan soup that is often eaten around Ramadan. Ingredients differ, but its usually based on a meat stock, with tomatoes, onion, celery, parsley and coriander (cilantro), spices and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas. Vegetarian versions of harira are available at some restaurants and these are usually vegan, but a standard harira usually contains meat.

That’s why I decided to include seitan in this recipe. It gives the soup more body, and it adds some texture and flavor. I used my homemade ‘chicken’ seitan, but storebought seitan would also work. If making the seitan yourself, you’ll need only 1 or 2 portions of that recipe for this soup, so you’ll have some seitan leftovers.

The inclusion of seitan makes the method of preparation similar to the original, albeit that this recipe is much faster – the seitan doesn’t need to cook for long, as it’s already cooked. Still, this recipe takes some time, as it uses dried chickpeas. These take about an hour to cook after soaking. This time making it I used only chickpeas, as I didn’t have any lentils – in the recipe notes you can find tips on how to cook the lentils if you do want to include them.

The spice mix I made for this recipe is sort of like a quick ras el hanout, and also tastes amazing in other Moroccan-inspired dishes. If you have ras el hanout around you could use that for this recipe too, but it might need some extra turmeric, ginger or paprika.

Harira (Moroccan Chickpea Soup)

This delicious Moroccan chickpea soup is full of flavors, nutrients and plant protein!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Soaking time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Lunch, Main, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: Chickpeas, Lentils, Moroccan, Ramadan, Seitan, Soup
Servings: 4 portions
Calories: 420kcal

Equipment

  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients

  • 200 g dried chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 200 g seitan homemade or storebought
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 15 g fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • 15 g fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 50 g vermicelli i just break spaghetti into small pieces, as I don't tend to use vermicelli often
  • 1 lemon, squeezed

Spice mix

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  • Soak the chickpeas, either overnight in cold water or quick-soak them 1h in advance. For quick-soaking: put chickpeas in a heat-safe container, and submerge in near-boiling water. Let cool for 1h.
  • Chop the tomatoes and onion in large pieces and blend with the celery, parsley and coriander until smooth in a blender or food processor.
  • Measure out all the spices for the spice mix and add together in a small bowl. Cut the seitan in bite-size pieces.
  • In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the seitan and fry until it starts to brown.
  • Add the spice mix and the tomato paste and stir well. Fry for a few minutes until your kitchen smells nice.
  • Add the blended tomatoes, an extra liter of water and the soaked chickpeas. Boil for 50 minutes.
  • Add the vermicelli and more water if needed and cook for 10-15 more minutes.
  • When the chickpeas and the vermicelli are cooked, stir in some fresh lemon juice. Serve in bowls, with some dates on the side to go with it.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

A nice variation is to switch out 50-100 grams of the dried chickpeas for 50-100 grams of dried brown lentils. Add these about 30-40 minutes before the soup is finished, no soaking required.


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