Moroccan cuisine is diverse and delicious, and Moroccan soups are indeed no exception! The Moroccan people are famous for making the most of seasonal ingredients and what better way to showcase fresh fixings than in a delicious bowl of soup accompanied by a crusty loaf of khobz (traditional Moroccan bread)?
If you had to name a national favorite here in the U.S. regarding soup, it would probably be something like chicken noodle. So do Moroccan's have a favorite soup -- one that's uniquely theirs? Many people think they do -- and no -- it's not the chicken noodle or some other variation of chicken soup! It's known as Harira, and it's not only delicious, it's so satisfying, it could quickly serve as an entree, and nobody at the table would mind a bit!
Traditional Moroccan Harira
There are probably as many versions of Harira in Morocco as there are of chicken soup here in the U.S. Everybody's got their recipe, but they all invariably include three essential ingredients:
Most versions also include meat, so Harira is most decidedly a heart soup beloved by Moroccans, especially at the end of the holy season of Ramadan, when it's traditionally used to break the fast.
Recipes for Harira are typically passed down from generation to generation and may include ingredients such as smen -- a preserved butter with a delicious flavor that's akin to Parmesan cheese. Herbs and spices such as cilantro, parsley, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger are also favorite additions, along with salt and pepper, of course!
Soup for Breakfast? Yes, If It's Hsouwa
Believe it or not, there's a soup in Morocco that's traditionally eaten for breakfast, which is not as odd as you might think since it's a sweet soup made with barley grits, milk, cinnamon, and cumin, among other things. It's known as Hsouwa, and you might think of it as the Moroccan version of oatmeal or porridge.
Spiced Lentil Soup
There are numerous versions of lentil soups served throughout Morocco. Some use red lentils, while others call for the green variety. But it's the herbs and spices that give it that unmistakable Moroccan flavor, including things like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and cilantro. Not your typical Grandma's lentil soup, but incredibly delicious and satisfying all the same!
Other Moroccan Favorites
Did we lead you to believe that Moroccans don't enjoy chicken soup? If we did, we apologize, because chicken soups are a staple in Moroccan kitchens, but instead of noodles or rice, they might include couscous -- a favorite Moroccan food. There are also chicken soups made with fresh seasonal vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes or squash, and some might include a legume like chickpeas, along with delicious Moroccan spices like coriander, cumin, and turmeric, plus herbs like parsley or turmeric. Garlic is also a common ingredient in Moroccan chicken soup recipes.
Bissara Soup is another Moroccan favorite. It's made with fava, garlic, olive oil, cumin, red pepper, salt and water for cooking down the beans. The soup was once a meal enjoyed mainly by the poor, but now it's found everywhere in Morocco these days.
In addition to these favorites, you'll also find versions of cauliflower and chickpea soups, butternut squash soups, spiced carrot soups, vegetable soups, and more. Moroccans, like most people, like their soups, and there is no shortage of imaginative recipes brimming with such traditional ingredients as chickpeas, couscous, lentils, and an abundance of fresh vegetables. Many Moroccan soups contain meats such as chicken, lamb, and beef as well, but all have a distinctly Moroccan flavor thanks to the country's liberal use of herbs and spices.
Next time you're in San Diego, be sure to reserve a table at Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro and Lounge and try a delicious bowl of Moroccan Harira soup prepared by the bistro's own Chef Moumen.