This deeply nourishing North African soup (called harira in Arabic) is traditionally eaten after sunset and just before sunrise during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. 

As with so many Mediterranean soups and stews, there are as many versions of harira as there are cooks – some prepared with lamb, others with veal, some containing vermicelli noodles, others potatoes.

Feel free to add other vegetables, such as green beans, chopped fresh spinach, turnips or zucchini, depending on the season and on your mood. However, the garbanzos should remain as they give the soup bulk and bite and provide gut-friendly fiber that your microbes will thank you for.

As with so many Mediterranean dishes, you can adapt this recipe to your dietary needs:

  • If you avoid gluten, swap wheat pasta for gluten-free pasta (I suggest using a lower-carb, higher-fiber pasta like Banza (made from chickpeas), which is likely to be less glycemic than rice pasta or corn pasta)
  • If you eat a keto diet, omit chickpeas, lentils and pasta (see notes for nutrition information)
  • If you eat a vegan diet, replace meat with extra-firm tofu (I recommend baked tofu that supplies about 16 g protein per serving) and replace chicken bone broth with vegetable broth; adding edamame beans can also boost the soup’s protein content
  • Vegetarians can use vegetable broth and/or top the soup with one or two fried or poached eggs in lieu of/in addition to tofu and edamame beans
  • If you don’t tolerate legumes, omit the chickpeas and lentils

Replacing or omitting ingredients will change the nutritional profile of this dish; if you want to know precisely how, I suggest you enter the adapted recipe into a food journaling app like Cronometer to see how your version compares.

This recipes yields a relatively thick, stew-y version of harira (pictured); if you want yours to be soupier, add one or two cups of chicken broth or water to achieve the desired consistency (which should  yield about 8 servings of soup).

I like to cook this dish under pressure, both because it’s so much faster than stove-top cooking and because IMHO it’s the best way of preserving nutrients while producing deeply satisfying flavors. However, if you don’t have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you can make this on a stove-top; you’ll just need to plan for a longer cooking time. (Stove-top instructions in italics below.)

Moroccan Chicken & Chickpea Soup (Harira)

Keyword: Gluten-Free (or can be), Instant Pot, Keto (or can be), Legumes, Low-Carb, Soups & Stews, Vegan (or can be), Vegetarian (or can be)
Servings: 6
Calories: 432kcal
A deeply nourishing soup (or stew) redolent with North African aromas
Print Recipe


  • 1 cup chickpeas (garbanzos), dry soak for 12-24 hours before cooking; alternatively, use 1 can cooked garbanzos
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • ½ tsp cumin ground
  • ½ tsp turmeric ground
  • ½ tsp cardamom ground
  • a generous pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 6 cups chicken bone broth
  • cup green lentils dry
  • cups tomatoes, diced alternatively, use a 14-oz can of diced or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 lb chicken thigh skinless & boneless (cubed stewing lamb works great too)
  • 3 oz spaghetti I like using Barilla's high-protein spaghetti
  • a pinch lemon zest freshly grated
  • a squeeze lemon juice fresh
  • ½ cup cilantro coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup parsley coarsely chopped


  • A day before you plan to cook this dish, soak the chickpeas (garbanzos) in a bowl of cold water. Immediately before cooking, drain and rinse these in a colander or sieve. (Omit this step if using canned chickpeas.)
  • In an Instant Pot, warm olive oil over SAUTE, MEDIUM, add onion, celery and carrots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and ginger and saute for another minute.
  • Now add the remaining ingredients: spices, salt and pepper, bone broth, lentils and chickpeas, tomatoes, meat (whichever using) and half the chopped, fresh herbs.
  • Lock the lid of the pressure cooker/Instant Pot and program to cook for 15 minutes (if using chicken) and 30 minutes (if using stewing lamb). (If preparing this in a stove-top pot, double the cooking times.)
  • Once the cooking time is up, cover the pressure valve with a kitchen towel and carefully switch the pressure valve to VENTING to release the pressure (keep your hand well away from the escaping steam!). Once the pressure has come down, unlock the lid and set the cooker to SAUTE, MEDIUM once more.
  • Add the spaghetti, breaking these into 1-2-inch pieces as you sprinkle them into the soup. Stir continuously to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom. After 7-8 minutes the pasta should be cooked (check packet instructions for recommended cooking time).
  • Adjust seasonings, adding lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired. Stir in the rest of the chopped cilantro & parsley. Ladle into serving bowls and enjoy, accompanied, perhaps, with a dollop of harissa.


  • Net carbs per serving (total carbs minus fiber): 35 g
  • Keto version: after removing chickpeas, lentils and spaghetti, this dish contains 7 g net carb per serving. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp olive oil over the soup as "garnish" to make up for the calories lost by removing the legumes & pasta. 


Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 602mg | Potassium: 970mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 4292IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 5mg