New Year, New Soup– Reset with Harira (Moroccan Lentil Soup)


Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed some holiday festivities and that your 2018 is off to a wonderful start. If, by chance, you might have overindulged, it might be time for a reset. Rather than looking for a miracle cleanse (because there isn’t one), I recommend that you just make your way back to your previous healthier eating habits.  I have a lot to say on this subject– if you’re interested, take a look at this just-published article I was interviewed for, in US News and World Report, “The Best Foods to Soothe a Taxed Digestive System.”

And since you might be looking for a recipe which includes many of the ingredients I mention in the article, I have just the thing! Harira is a classic Moroccan lentil soup.  This version, which comes from Chef Mourad Lahlou, whose restaurant, Mourad, I externed in during culinary school, elevates this simple soup to something truly special, and worth the many steps involved.  I can think of no better way to begin a healthy and delicious New Year.  Happy 2018! To your health!

Chef Mourad Lahlou’s Harira

Recipe adapted from Mourad: New Moroccan, Artisan, 2011.

Serves 6


Spice Mix

Combine the following:

1 ½ tsp salt

½ T ground cumin

½ T ground coriander

½ tsp ground white pepper

¾ tsp sweet paprika

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp saffron threads

Date balls

6 Medjool dates

Extra virgin olive oil


Remove pit from each date. Cut in ½ lengthwise and then cut each half into 4 strips each. Roll each strip into a ball and keep covered in olive oil.


¾ cup green lentils, rinsed


Place lentils in 3 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, rinse and keep in cold water unti ready to use.

Celery Salad

Toss together:

½ bunch celery, diced into 1/8 inch dice (to make ½ cup)

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T minced flat leaf parsley

sea salt and pepper to taste


1 cup tomato paste

4 qts plus ½ cup water

1 bunch cilantro (discard tough stems)

½ bunch flat leaf parsley

¾ pounds yellow onions—cut into chunks and processed into a mush in food processor

½ bunch celery, leaves only

3 T all purpose flour

1 cup warm water

1/16 tsp active dry yeast

1 ½ T lemon juice


  1.  Put tomato paste and 3 ½ qts water in stockpot over high heat. Whisk, then when boiling, reduce to gentle boil and cook for an hour, or reduced by ¼. (Take off heat if onions not yet ready.)
  2. Process together the onion mush, herbs and celery leaves, adding water if necessary, until almost liquefied.
  3. Transfer onion/herb mixture to a saucepan and stir in spice mixture. Add remaining 2 ½ cups water and bring to gentle boil over high heat, then simmer for another hour or until reduced by half.
  4. Stir reduced onion mixture into the stockpot with tomatoes, simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until reduced by 1/3 to just over 2 quarts.
  5. Add cooked lentils and keep soup warm over low heat.
  6. Whisk together flour, water and yeast and let sit until foamy, about 10 mins.
    Add to flour mixture to soup, whisking constantly, then stir from bottom to prevent sticking until soup has thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice.
  7. To serve, put a spoonful of celery salad on one side of a soup plate and then next to it, 8 date balls. Ladle soup around the celery and date balls so some of the garnishes remain visible. Drizzle some of the celery olive oil and garnish with celery leaves.


If this didn’t have so many steps, I would definitely have included this in the menu for next week’s first anniversary(!) Thrive Kitchen class, Soups and Salads of the World.  While less time consuming, the soups we will be making are equally delicious.  Don’t miss your chance to cook with me in the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco! Email or call 415-833-3450 to register– $30 Kaiser Permanente members, $40 nonmembers.  And join and “like” The Doctor’s Spicebox on Facebook for more!