Moroccan-style Lentil Soup with Chickpeas

August 16th, 2011

I love this soup! This is a wonderful soup to eat as a meal with crusty bread—or to break your fast during Ramadan. This particular soup was adapted from a recipe in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. (A lovely cookbook). However, I changed the ingredients to make the soup heartier and healthier.  Also, I experimented with cooking methods to be able to prepare this on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.

If you’ve never used a slow cooker, it’s a wonderful tool—especially during Ramadan. Why? First, food can be prepped and simmering early in the day. Then when it’s time to break your fast, there’s less last-minute rushing around. Second, a slow cooker can free up your stovetop when entertaining. It’s traditional when hosting a Ramadan iftar to prepare many, many dishes. The slow cooker enables you to get a dish going early on and out of the way.

The ingredients in this recipe are generally straight-forward, except for one: harissa. This Tunisian hot chili sauce comes in a tube, can or small jar. It’s normally found in specialty stores; however, I sometimes have trouble finding it in Dubai. This time I used something called “harissa paste” and it worked just fine. For those that like more of a kick, serve extra harissa on the side.

This recipe calls for canned tomatoes, chopped. I suggest avoiding any type of ready-cut canned tomatoes and opt for whole plum tomatoes, which are higher quality. Chopping them yourself takes only a few minutes, and it improves the flavor of the dish.

Moroccan-Style Lentil Soup with Chickpeas

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, chopped finely

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled & minced

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup orange lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 14½ -ounce can whole plum tomatoes, chopped (reserve liquid)

1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

6 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock (and/or water)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 to 2 teaspoons harissa

Fresh pepper and 1½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Fresh cilantro or parsley (garnish)

Serve with extra lemon slices and harissa on the side.


  1. In a large skillet or cooking pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook until softened. Add the ginger and the four spices, stirring to coat the vegetables.
  2. Transfer the onion mixture to a slow cooker. Alternatively, keep the mixture in the cooking pot to cook on the stovetop. Add the lentils, chickpeas, stock, and chopped tomatoes, including the liquid.
  3. SLOW COOKER METHOD: Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours—or on High for 4 hours.
  4. STOVETOP METHOD: Simmer gently, uncovered, over low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add extra liquid if necessary.
  5. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and harissa and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with lemon slices and extra harissa on the side.

Tell me: what is your favorite Moroccan food—or Ramadan time-saver?

  1. Linda A
    August 16th, 2011 at 18:26 | #1

    Holly: This looks so good and I think I had this soup a long time ago at a dinner given by a Moroccan woman. I thought I remembered meat being it in, too; but I could be just imagining that.

  2. August 16th, 2011 at 18:53 | #2

    We had Iftar today with our Omani friends. Just on my way home I was thinking to myself how much i crave a hearty Morrocan soup for Iftar. Our friends served this lovely wheat soup with bits of meat, which was very light, yet very satisfying and it got me thinking that this is the best kind of iftar. So now I turn on the computer and find this wonderful recipe you are sharing! I will definitely try it this week….thanks Holly for being such a good mind-reader 🙂

  3. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    August 17th, 2011 at 10:02 | #3

    @Linda A Sounds like you had harira, Linda. That’s a Moroccan speciality & simialr to this soup above. However, harira has bits of lamb, as well as vermicelli and maybe a few other things…. Apparently, Moroccans eat it every night of Ramadan.

    @Soha Thanks for your comment. Seems we are all thinking of food during Ramadan. 😉 I will try to think ahead to your next craving, Soha. In the mean time, tell me how the soup turns out!

  4. Cara
    January 15th, 2012 at 04:05 | #4

    Eating this delicious soup as I type this. It is literally in my mouth right now. Thanks you so much for posting the recipe. I love pretty much anything with chickpeas, or lentils, or cardamom. All them together makes for a heavenly dish. Thank you Pinterest, and thank you Holly!!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      January 16th, 2012 at 12:52 | #5

      Cara, Thanks so much for stopping by & for your lovely comment. It was great hearing from you. I plan to post more recipes very soon. Stay tuned!

  5. June 19th, 2012 at 03:06 | #6

    I love lentils and I love chickpeas, but somehow I never had them together. This dish looks and sounds incredibly delicious. Just thinking of all those aromas together makes my mouth water. And as if that weren’t enough already, the Moroccan touch makes it perfect!:) I’ve bookmarked the page to make the soup as soon as I have all the ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

    To answer your question, my favourite Moroccan foods are msemmen and couscous, as solid, and the Moroccan mint tea (which I prefer unsweetened), as liquid. For Ramadan I love a creamy lentil soup with crunchy pita croutons, this has always been my first choice for Iftar.

  6. June 21st, 2012 at 14:21 | #7

    I made the soup yesterday and it was absolutely delicious! After 2 bowls of soup in a row I still craved more. The harissa paste I found was only mildly hot, so I had to add 4-5 teaspoons in order to get that kick:) I loved the cinnamon flavour. Thank you again for sharing the recipe, I highly recommend it:)

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      June 25th, 2012 at 23:47 | #8

      Adriana, So glad the soup turned out well. Thank you for letting me know!

  7. Brenda
    August 1st, 2013 at 14:42 | #9

    I’m looking forward to making this soup – both versions. I think I should be able to find the harissa paste here in the south of Spain. Thanks for there récipes! The blog is wonderful.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 2nd, 2013 at 03:34 | #10

      HI Brenda,
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m sure you can find all sorts of North African foodstuff where you are. Happy Cooking. bye for now.

  8. Vic
    December 11th, 2013 at 16:26 | #11

    Have this on the stove now it smells amazing!! Can’t wait to taste it 🙂 x

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 15th, 2013 at 21:18 | #12

      HI Vick, Thanks for the comment. I hope it turned out tasty. 🙂

  9. May 16th, 2014 at 22:03 | #13

    I love all the flavours in this and especially that it can be made in the slow cooker as I am always so busy in the evening it’s lovely to just have dinner ready and waiting.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      May 18th, 2014 at 09:14 | #14

      Thanks for reading, Corina. I hope the soup turns out for you.

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