“Fragrant” would be the word for this hearty North African soup.

As we continue with the idea of mixing ‘sweet’ spices (like nutmeg) with savory dishes, Harira is a perfect example to try.  Cinnamon and ginger play important roles in this stew, providing a warm spice that earns it a spot on the list of comfort foods even if you’ve had no history with it.


Harira is traditionally served to break the fast at Ramadan and at other celebrations, and as with most cultural dishes there are as many recipes as there are families making them.

I’m making it because when I look out the window I see freezing drizzle and mud, and Warming Comfort Food sounds ideal.



This recipe was from my friend Kristen and adapted numerous times.  Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients, most of them you will have on hand.

Saffron may or may not be in your home stash. The stigma and stigma stems from the Crocus Sativus, saffron’s delicate red-gold threads are extremely aromatic with a unique flavor, and give a brilliant deep orange color to dishes…and to material (Buddhist monastic robes are often dyed in saffron).

Many specialty grocery stores carry it, as well as places online.




I cooked extra garbanzos and froze what I did not use.  I know I repeatedly suggest freezing leftovers…but since most people learn by visuals and not words, here is a little picture to cement in your mind it is such a handy thing to have cooked beans in your freezer!


And now without further ado….have fun with the Fragrant Warm Spice!



Prep Time: 2-3 hours to cook garbanzos, 20 minutes to prep the soup   Cooking Time: 45 minutes


Saute for a few minutes in a Soup Pot:

1 medium Onion, diced

3 cups Celery, diced

1 cup Carrots, diced

2 Tbsp Oil of choice


6 cups Stock or Water

1 1/2 cups Green or Brown Lentils, rinsed

2 cups cooked Garbanzo Beans

1 1/2 cup Potatoes, diced

1 cup Tomatoes, diced

A pinch of Saffron

2 tsp Paprika

2 Tbsp Ginger, freshly grated (or ginger juice)

2 tsp Turmeric

2 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Cayenne

2 1/4  tsp Sea Salt  (to taste—it may be different if the garbanzos were from a can)

1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Simmer gently until the lentils are cooked. 

Taste and adjust seasonings and liquid.

Remove from heat and add:

3 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped

Other Harira ingredient options:

  • Lamb
  • Flour
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Fava Beans
Serving Suggestions with Harira:
  • Hard Boiled Eggs sprinkled with Cumin and Salt
  • Breads, Crepes and Sweet Breads
  • Dates and Figs
  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Rice Pudding
  • Sesame Honey Cookies
The bowl was made by Steve Tamari when he was a student at Scattergood School.
The spoon was carved by Frank Wright, spoonmaker of Lanesboro, MN.



2 thoughts on “Harira”

  • Did you try grating and adding the “African Smoke” I gave you? (Was that what it was called?)

    • I didn’t use it in this stew, but that’s a great idea! The mix is called “South African Smoke” and is a blend of paprika flakes, salt, garlic, and basil that has been dehydrated and smoked. I might try smoking some of my own spices this summer when the grill is fired up!

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