Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)

Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)

Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira) is hearty and fragrant – a soul-satisfying one-dish meal. There are many versions of this soup – some with meat and others like this one, which is vegan. In some families it is traditional to serve this as the “break-the-fast” meal following Yom Kippur. But it could and should be enjoyed throughout the fall and winter. This is a make-ahead meal that only improves with a bit of age.

To show how vastly different our family traditions can be, my family’s break-the-fast meal was always bagels, lox and smoked fish. We came from New York via Russia Poland. But the truth is that I actually don’t like lox and smoked fish in the Midwest just doesn’t cut it for me. So, as I have with much of our diet during the rest of the year, I have adopted a more Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/South Asian food culture. And a heavily plant-based diet.

I came across a version of this soup on the Jewish Food Society website. It’s a wonderful site that has made it its mission to collect stories and recipes of the myriad Jewish communities across the globe. These are recipes that have been passed down through the generations, but which might have so easily been lost. Because so many of these families were forced from their homes under terrible conditions, it was easy for these unwritten treasures to have fallen by the wayside. While I have found that the recipes on the site are not always easy to follow, especially if you are a novice cook, the family histories alone make the website worth a visit.

While we Jews lived among the local communities, we also remained outside of them, keeping to our own traditions. Local cuisine was adapted to meet the laws of kashrut. Harira, Moroccan Chickpea Soup is a perfect example. Moroccan Muslims would eat harira to break the fast on Ramadan. Whereas many Jews ate it to break the fast on Yom Kippur.

The original recipe for this harira uses fine egg noodles and since I am not a vegan, I did as well. However, there is no reason why an angel hair pasta or spaghettini couldn’t be used instead. That is the only change required to make this wonderful soup vegan.

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Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)

If you choose to cook your own soaked chickpeas as I have done, you need to start the process the night before. If you prefer to use canned chickpeas, you can still make a delicious and hearty soup. I happen to enjoy cooking my own beans and use the liquid from the cooking process to replace most of the water called for in the recipe. It adds an extra level of nourishment and flavor and helps to further thicken the soup. Unless you are using organic canned beans, however, I would not recommend using the liquid. You could use water, as called for, adding a vegetable bouillon cube or you could use a vegetable stock.

After I had decided to make the recipe I found from the Jewish Food Society, I came across another version from My Jewish Learning, The Nosher. So I ended up doing what I usually do and took the elements that I liked best from both and then tweaked it!

My sister-in-law is from Morocco and I asked what her family’s tradition was for breaking the fast. She told me that their tradition was to eat an egg-drop soup before the fast and cake to break the fast, followed by a full meal. So whatever tradition your family follows – or if you are starting a tradition of your own, I definitely encourage you to fit this wonderful and incredibly soul-satisfying soup in there somehow.

For a version of harira with lamb: Harira – Moroccan Chickpea and Lamb Soup


Yield: 6 servings

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Moroccan Chickpea Soup (Harira)


1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained OR one 15 oz. can of drained chickpeas

4 Tablespoons olive or a neutral oil like Canola

3 medium carrots (or 2 large), peeled and cut into small dice or rounds

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon Harissa paste, or to taste (I used 2 Tablespoons of a milder Harissa and added a few crushed red chili flakes)

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup brown lentils OR 1/2 cup red lentils and 1/2 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (If making this in the winter, use canned tomatoes, about 28 oz. can)

3 cups fine egg noodles OR angel hair pasta broken into thirds (About 4 to 5 oz. depending on the kind of noodle that you use)

8 cups of vegetable stock, OR water with a couple of bouillon cubes OR the cooking liquid from the chickpeas plus additional water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

A large handful of cilantro and/or parsley, stems and leaves roughly chopped


If you are cooking your own soaked chickpeas, place the drained chickpeas in a pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and 4.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and skim off any white foam. Cover and cook for 50 minutes at a simmer.

In a large pot, add 4 Tablespoons olive or Canola oil. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook for about 6 minutes on medium high heat or until softened. I like to add 1 teaspoon of salt here. I will probably add more later since it is a big pot of soup. However, if you are using broth or bouillon and depending on your Harissa, you might not need much more salt. You can always add it but you cannot easily remove it!

Once the veggies are softened, add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.

Now add the Harissa, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper and stir through to coat everything well. Cook for 1 minute and then add the tomato paste to the bottom of the pot. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

If you are using your own chickpeas you can add them to the pot. I find that when I cook chickpeas myself, they retain their shape and bite even when cooked longer. If you are using canned chickpeas, you will add them in later. Your lentils are also added now. Give everything a good stir to coat with the spices and tomato paste.

Next add the tomatoes, broth, water or liquid from the chickpeas, the chopped stems of the parsley and/or cilantro. Don’t worry if there are some leaves in there as well. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. This can be done ahead.

When you are ready to eat, return the heat to a boil and add the noodles and canned chickpeas, if using. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and check your seasonings. The soup should be very thick, almost stew like. If you want it thinner then add more liquid. Add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon. Garnish with the chopped parsley/cilantro leaves.


Kalguksu (or Korean chicken noodle soup)

Growing up, this was one of the best meals to have when feeling sick and under the weather. As I got older, it finally occurred to me that this was basically just chicken noodle soup, but how the Koreans made it.


I almost never make my own noodles for this, though I was feeling inspired last weekend and finally gave it a shot.


In general though, if I can’t find a Korean grocery store or if I’m just feeling lazy I’ll just use udon or ramen noodles.  Kal-guk-su literally translates into “knife cut noodles” so to get the authentic flavor of these, it really is worth either making the noodles or finding them at a Korean grocery store.

For the soup

  • 2 lb of chicken
  • 1/2 cup of “gook-gang-jang” or soup soy sauce (if you can’t find it, I’ve heard you can substitute with fish sauce found in Asian aisles at grocery stores)
  • 1 zucchini, diced finely in matchstick pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • scallions (1 bunch)
  • sesame seeds
  • Korean red chili pepper flakes (go-chu-garu) optional for garnish

For the noodles

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

To make the soup:

  1. Bring a 5 qt pot of water (where the pot is about 70% full of water) to boil.  Add the chicken and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Skim the surface of the broth, and take out the chicken and move to a cutting board.
  3. Shred the chicken using 2 forks and put into a medium sized glass mixing bowl.  Add the soy sauce, scallions, sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds and mix thoroughly.  Feel free to add some more soy sauce if it’s not enough to coat all the shredded chicken.
  4. Add the soup soy sauce and the zucchini to the broth on the stove and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

To make the noodles:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and vegetable oil, and slowly add the cold water mixing to make a dough as you go.
  2. Mix and knead the dough until it hold shape in a ball.  Knead for another 5 minutes or so and then let rest for about 30 minutes in a covered bowl.
  3. After the 30 minutes, knead the dough again for about 5 minutes, and then roll it out like a large pancake until it is rather thin.  Add flour to the top of this “dough pancake,” flip over and add flour to the other side as well.  Then fold the pancake a few times over.  Cut the folded panckae in about 1/8″ increments to make the noodles.

Putting it all together

  1. Once the broth is back up to a boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Put some noodles in a bowl, add some liquid broth, and then garnish with a clump of the marinated chicken. Sprinkle some kochugaru if you have it, and enjoy!

(I personally love to add a lot of kimchi to this hearty dish – plus I think it helps with clearing out the sinuses!)


Chilled Persian Yogurt Soup

While technically Autumn has started, it still feels warm and muggy in New York.  This soup was a nice antidote to the hot air outdoors, and was refreshing to eat.  While I’m not sure if I could taste the added flavor from them, the rose petals do add a flair of “fancy” and can be found at



  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried rose petals (optional)
  • 2 cups 2 percent plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Ground sumac, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate (or just a baking sheet lined with foil) and toast for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the rose petals with cold water and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the petals and squeeze dry.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the ice water. (You can add water if it seems too thick). Stir in the raisins, cucumber, mint, dill, chives, walnuts and rose petals and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour. Serve the soup in shallow bowls, sprinkled with sumac.


From Food and Wine

Zucchini and Basil Soup

Sometimes in the winter, you just want a warm soup that takes minimal effort.  After all, we’re spending so much energy just staying warm, it would be nice if the soup were easy to whip together!  I feel this way about soup particularly when I’m sick in the winter.  For some reason after making my own soups, I’ve spoiled myself and hate buying soups if I can help it to recover from illness (they just never taste the same!)  But of course when I’m sick the last thing I want to do is be hovering over the stove.  (I decided to solve this problem the last time this happened by making extra soup and storing it in the freezer for the next sick day: gold star for self.)


In any event, I’ve been making lots of butternut squash and tomato soup, and finally decided to try this zucchini basil soup from an Ina Garten cookbook I’ve head on my shelf for some time.  I had been extremely wary of it, for no apparently reason, given that one of my favorite Korean soups includes warm cooked zucchini.

I sometimes wonder if my feelings on zucchini are related to back when my family grew them in the backyard, and there were just so many delicious zucchini flowers that turned into gigantic zucchinis that just never made it into my (non-existent) “favorite vegetable” list.

In any event, this with a drizzle of basil olive oil and a sprinkle of grated parmesan really warms the soul on a cold winter night.  It also has a nice spicy twang thanks to the red chili pepper flakes, which made for a wonderful pairing with a California Zinfandel.


  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped  yello onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 3 lb zucchini (I used about 4 medium-large ones)
    1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup good dry white wine (I used a dry Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (Kitchen Basics has a nice one)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • grated parmesan cheese or serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large port over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes or until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the zucchini, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.
  2. Add the wine, chicken stock, and basil, bring it to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the zucchini is very tender.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture.
  4. Serve with a grating of cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Make it Ahead.

Easy Mushroom and Leek Soup

Whenever winter rolls around, I start dreaming about all the soups that I can eat (and make) and inevitably end up using my immersion blender all the time to make tasty and hearty liquid warmth.


Making soup is extra fun with this pumpkin cast iron pot that is so beautiful that it makes cooking the soup feel extra seasonally appropriate.  It just so happens that Sur La Table also seems to think so, and provided a delicious mushroom and leek soup recipe to go with this pot.


I modified it by using less stock (to make it much more dense) and left out all the extra butter and whipping cream.  To be honest, I don’t think we’re missing much for not including it and it ends up being healthier this way, too!


  • 1 ounce dried wild mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups roughly chopped celery
  • 2 medium leeks, white parts only
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups sliced stemmed fresh shitake mushrooms
  • 4 cups sliced Crimini mushrooms
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • diced chives (optional, for garnish)
  • ¼ cup straw mushrooms, for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the dried mushrooms into a small bowl and cover with hot tap water, set aside and allow to soak for 20 minutes. Cut leeks into ¼” rounds. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water and wash well, lift from water into a colander and drain.
  2. In a large pot, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and place on the stove over a medium-high heat to melt. Add the celery, leeks and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add all the mushrooms and cook until just starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, use a silicone spatula to combine the flour and butter until a smooth paste forms. Add the flour paste mixture to the pot and stir until the mixture melts and coats the vegetables. Gradually mix in the stock and bring to the boil, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove the soaking mushrooms from their liquid and roughly chop. Add the mushrooms and their liquid, being careful not to add any sediment to the soup. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mushrooms are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture in the pot (alternatively, use a blender and work in batches.) Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle with truffle oil, garnish with straw mushrooms and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.


Adapted from Sur La Table Easy Mushroom and Leek Soup.

Hot Days – Cold Soup

IMAG3431When I was growing up we didn’t have central air conditioning. No one did. Instead there was one window air conditioner in the bedroom I shared with my sister and when the mercury rose,  we took the mattress off of the box spring and our brother came and slept on the floor. Being the youngest, I got the box spring. Even having this air conditioner was considered quite a luxury. So when the temperature hit the 80’s, my mother – Matthew and Frances’ “Nana” – made her Gazpacho. If we had guests, which was often since everyone loved to come to our house and my mother was a wonderful cook, Nana would also make paella.

I now have central air conditioning, but I still love to have cold soup when the temperature rises. I came across this “green” version while watching the Cooking Channel’s show Extra Virgin. It’s very different from the Andalusian Gazpacho that Frances made and the tomato-based version that Nana made – both wonderful. All of these soups make an elegant first course or a light supper served simply with crusty bread, maybe a salad and a crisp white or rose wine.

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Green Gazpacho Adapted from Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar


6-8 first course servings/ 4 dinner servings

4 cups seedless green grapes

6 scallions, white and light green parts, roughly chopped

2 Large seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks

2 cloves of garlic

1 large bunch of flat-leafed parsley, leaves only

1 medium avocado, cut into chunks

1/3 cup EVOO

3 Tablespoons light white vinegar (I like to use Champagne vinegar or Rice Vinegar. If I use rice vinegar, I like to do 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar. If you don’t mind the sweetness, you can use all rice vinegar.)

Kosher Salt and cracked pepper to taste

1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted


Using a heavy-duty blender or food processor, combine the grapes, scallions, cucumbers, garlic , parsley and avocado. You may have to do this in batches, depending on your blender. Pulse and while the machine is blending, add the olive oil and vinegar.  I like my soup fairly thick and creamy but if you prefer a thinner consistency you can add a little ice water.

Season with salt and pepper (for this much soup, 1.5 teaspoons is about right for the salt and about 5-6 cracks of a good black pepper.)

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and serve topped with the toasted almonds. I like this even better when made a day ahead. It will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days, but why wouldn’t you just eat it right up?!

Salmorejo: Andalusian Gazpacho

On a summer trip last year to Southern Spain, also known as Andalusia, we discovered some delicious soups that were the perfect respites to the hot, dry summer heat.  After visiting cities such as Seville, Cordoba and Granada, we quickly learned that this menu staple was a sure way to feel both full and refreshed, and were eager to try to make it again once we returned home.  Described as the “Andalusian gazpacho” it was much, much creamier, and always served in small tapas sized bowls (we were often jostling spoons to get every last drop!)


2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
8 plum tomatoes, cored, halved, and seeded
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 baguette (about 10 oz.), cut into large pieces
1⁄2 small yellow onion
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
1 1⁄2 cups finely chopped Iberian ham or prosciutto (optional)

  1. Place salt, tomatoes, garlic, bread, and onion in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit for 1 hour.
  2. Drain vegetables, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid; place in blender.
  3. Squeeze water from bread; place in blender with reserved soaking liquid, oil, and vinegar.
  4. Purée until smooth; season with salt and pepper, and chill (for at least 3-4 hours, best overnight)
  5. Pour into serving bowls; top with eggs, ham, and a drizzle of oil.

Recipe adapted from Saveur.