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Liz's Moroccan Harira

Liz's Moroccan Harira

Traditionally eaten during the holy month of Ramadan and most often served with a side of fresh dates, this subtly spiced soup is thick with lentils and chick peas and enlivened with lots of chopped fresh herbs and lemon juice. It’s the national soup of Morocco but its roots spread right across the North African region known as The Maghreb, of which Morocco is a part. I most often use my pressure cooker when making this soup but I have included instructions for the traditional method as well.


30mls olive oil
2 lamb shanks
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
7 cups water
1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 400g cans brown lentils, drained and rinsed
¼ cup lemon juice, or more to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch coriander, leaves finely chopped plus extra to serve
Greek yoghurt to serve
Pita bread to serve


Heat the oil in a pressure cooker (or heavy-based stockpot) over medium heat.
Season the lamb, then cook, turning, for 4-5 minutes until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add spices and bay leaf and cook until fragrant.

Return the lamb to the pan then add the water, canned tomatoes and coriander. Bring to a simmer, then cover and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook for 25 minutes.

Release pressure, using the fast release method suitable for your pressure cooker, and add chickpeas and lentils. Bring back to pressure and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Release pressure again and remove lamb shanks. If using the traditional method, gently simmer soup for 1.5-2 hours (depending on the size of your shanks) adding the rinsed lentils and chickpeas twenty minutes or so before the end – don’t be too concerned about timing, a bit of time more or less is going to make absolutely no difference to your finished soup.

Break shanks apart, chop the meat and add back to the soup. Add lemon juice and fresh coriander plus salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with extra coriander and serve with yoghurt and pita bread if desired.

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