Simply Lebanese

Hareesa Soup

Hareesa Soup
  • Cook Time
    2.5 hrs
  • Serving
    12
An ancient meal made with only a few ingredients, Hareesa is a rich and creamy soup made from wheat and chicken and has the consistency of porridge. This dish is intended to feed a crowd, and simmer for hours on end. But, I have simplified the recipe to make this warm, comforting dish to feed your family in just a few hours.
Hareesa Soup

Not to confuse you with harissa the Tunisian chili paste, or the Ater-soaked dessert (also known as namoura and basbousa), this Assyrian Hareesa Soup is a savory dish with the same name. Hareesa Soup is quite popular in in the Arab countries especially the ones in the Persian Gulf. It’s often served during Ramadan or the Eid Holiday.

Also, this dish has an ancient history in Armenia, where It’s served as a charity dish until this day. It is even considered their national dish. Even in villages in Lebanon until today (especially South Lebanon), Hareesa soup is prepared in a large communal pot on religious occasions and shared with the less fortunate neighbors and people in the villages.

Traditional Hareesa Soup

Traditionally, one of the essential parts of cooking this soup is the extremely long cooking process. Typically, this Armenian porridge/soup is cooked in a giant pot outdoors with people taking turns stirring and crushing the wheat for hours on end until the wheat has fully cooked and become soft. Unless you want to make this to feed 50 or more people, then my faster, homemade and just as delicious recipe is what you are looking for.

The wheat berries need to be prepared a day in advance before the cooking process. To do so, I soak the wheat berries in a large bowl with very hot water overnight. I change the water at least one time while soaking. Similar to working with dried beans, the soaking of the wheat berries helps the cooking process and shorten the cooking time.

Hareesa Soup

Once the wheat berries have soaked for a minimum of 6 hours, I wash them and place them in a large pot. I then proceed to boil the wheat berries for about an hour, constantly stirring as they do begin to stick as the starches are released.

How to Cook Hareesa Soup

After the first hour of cooking, I then slowly begin to add fresh chicken stock ladle by ladle, while constantly stirring and “crushing” the wheat berries so they get nice and soft. This process goes on for another hour and a half or more depending on how much you are making. The final step is to add salt, cooked shredded chicken and melted butter or ghee.

Lamb or beef can be used instead of chicken if you prefer. I boiled a whole chicken and shredded it and used all the broth in the soup. Bone-in chicken breast would be a wonderful substitution. You want chicken with fat/bones since all the flavor of the soup is coming from the chicken broth. When cooking the chicken, I added a small onion, bay leaves, cloves and al the typical aromatics I add when boiling chicken. Feel free to boil your chicken however you prefer.

As for the fat, ghee is quite often used and what I used. However, butter is just as delicious. For the 5 cups of wheat berries I used, I added ½ cup of ghee but, this recipe is quite versatile so you can adjust it according to your preference.

What are Wheat Berries?

Wheat berries are the edible part of the wheat kernel. They are actually the source of all the wheat products we eat on a daily basis before any refinement occurs. Wheat berries are very healthy, loaded with protein, iron and fiber with less calories per serving than brown rice, pasta, freekeh and most other grains.

Hareesa Soup

You should be able to find wheat berries at most natural food stores like Whole Foods, or, at most Middle-eastern or Indian grocers. They would be located near the other grains in the store.  You can also find them online, on Amazon.

Hareese Tips

1. Soak the wheat berries for at least 6 hours but, preferably overnight.

2. Do not leave the pot for more than 10 minutes alone without stirring. 

3. Using the bottom of your ladle, mash the wheat berries as they cook. If you prefer a creamier hareese, use a food processor or an immersion blender to process the soup a bit after it has finished cooking.

4. Hareese will solidify in the refrigerator, add more chicken broth OR water when reheating.

5. Hareese freezes very well for up to 3 months in an airtight container or baggie. Add broth or water when reheating.

STEP 1

In a large bowl, add the wheat berries. Heat up a kettle of water and add enough boiling water to cover the wheat and at least a couple of inches above. 

Hareesa Soup

Soak for minimum 6 hours (preferably overnight).Change the water at least once.

Hareesa Soup

STEP 2

In a large pot, add the soaked and drained wheat berries along with enough water to cover at least 2 inches above the wheat. Cook over medium heat for one hour, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking.

STEP 3

In a separate large pot, add the whole chicken, onion and all the aromatics and seasonings. Cook for 90 minutes until the chicken is fall off the bone tender. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool and shred.

Hareesa Soup

STEP 4

Once the wheat has cooked for 1 hour, start adding the prepared chicken broth, one ladle at a time. This process is similar to risotto, where you keep adding warm chicken broth as the wheat absorbs it. Use a strainer when adding the chicken broth to catch any of the aromatics.

Hareesa Soup

Using the bottom of the ladle or a potato masher, mash the wheat buds during the cooking process. They don’t need to be fully mashed, but slightly crushed. This process should go on for about 90 minutes or so for a total cooking time of 2.5 hours.

Hareesa Soup
Hareesa Soup

STEP 5

Shred the whole chicken into small bite size pieces.

Hareesa Soup

In a small skillet or saucepan, add ½ cup of ghee (or butter) and warm over medium until JUST melted.

Hareesa Soup

Add the warmed ghee and shredded chicken to the hareese.Season with salt and stir to incorporate.

Hareesa Soup

Optional: Serve with sprinkled cinnamon on top….

Hareesa Soup
Hareesa Soup

Hareesa Soup

An ancient meal made with only a few ingredients, Hareesa is a rich and creamy soup made from wheat and chicken and has the consistency of porridge. This dish is intended to feed a crowd, and simmer for hours on end. But, I have simplified the recipe to make this warm, comforting dish to feed your family in just a few hours.
4.89 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Armenian
Keyword: Harees, Hareesa, Hreesi, Noodle Soup
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 592kcal
Author: Iman

Ingredients

Cooking Chicken

  • 1 sm. Onion
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp. Whole Cloves
  • 4 Cardamom Pods (Optional)
  • 1 Dried Lime/Lemon (Optional)
  • 1 tb. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the wheat berries. Heat up a kettle of water and add enough boiling water to cover the wheat and at least a couple of inches above. Soak for minimum 6 hours (preferably overnight). Change the water at least once.
  • In a large pot, add the soaked and drained wheat berries along with enough water to cover at least 2 inches above the wheat. Cook over medium heat for one hour, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking.
  • In a separate large pot, add the whole chicken, onion and all the aromatics and seasonings. Cook for 90 minutes until the chicken is fall off the bone tender. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool and shred.
  • Once the wheat has cooked for 1 hour, start adding the prepared chicken broth, one ladle at a time. This process is similar to risotto, where you keep adding warm chicken broth as the wheat absorbs it. Use a strainer when adding the chicken broth to catch any of the aromatics. Using the bottom of the ladle or a potato masher, mash the wheat buds during the cooking process. They don’t need to be fully mashed, but slightly crushed. This process should go on for about 90 minutes or so for a total cooking time of 2.5 hours.
  • Shred the whole chicken into small bite size pieces.
    In a small skillet or saucepan, add ½ cup of ghee (or butter) and warm over medium until JUST melted. Add the warmed ghee and shredded chicken to the hareese. Season with salt and stir to incorporate.

Notes

Optional: Serve with sprinkled cinnamon on top!

Nutrition

Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 877mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 159IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 4mg

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    Recipe Reviews

    • Fay

      We call this Shurba in Aden (Yemen), use goat meat instead of chicken, and I love it !

      • Iman

        Wow so interesting to learn! Sounds delicious.

    • Alice

      5 stars
      I’m so excited to have found your recipe. The old Armenian cookbooks I have don’t contain many details or measurements. My family will be so excited to get this dish at home since we are used to only having it at church events. Thank you!

      • Iman

        Thats wonderful! It’s much easier than you would think, I hope you love it as much as the one you are used to eating.

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