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North African Soup: Chorba

North African Soup: Chorba

The aroma of simmering spices and slow-cooked meats fills the air as you picture yourself among the busy markets of Algiers or the energetic streets of Marrakech. In these disparate cultural settings, the hearty soup chorba, which is popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans, commands attention as a dish that connects various people. Beyond its mouthwatering flavors, Chorba embodies an enthralling past that depicts the mosaic of cultures and traditions that have been woven over the course of millennia.

From Algeria to Turkey, each location have their own distinct ingredients and cooking methods that are infused into the dish only by the term "Chorba" itself.

In North Africa, groups of nomads navigating huge deserts began to turn to chorba as a source of nourishment. Its invention can be traced back to the demand for a light-weight, filling meal that could support travelers on long voyages. As a result, soft meats, legumes like chickpeas and lentils, and a variety of colorful vegetables that were all readily available locally came together to create Chorba.

Preparation Time

1 hour and 20 minutes



1 pound lamb or chicken (cut into bite-sizes)

2 carrots (diced)

2 potatoes (diced)

1 bell pepper (diced)

1 zucchini (diced)

¼ cup vermicelli or broken spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons paprika

½ cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)

¼ cup lentils

1 onion (chopped)

2 tomatoes (chopped)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground turmeric 

Saffron threads 

Salt and pepper 

Cilantro or parsley (chopped)


  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot, and the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.
  • Add the meat (lamb or chicken) and brown it on all sides.
  • Add the tomatoes, paprika, ground cumin, turmeric, saffron threads, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas, lentils, and enough water to cover all the ingredients in the pot. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, potatoes, bell pepper, and zucchini to the pot. 
  • Allow simmering for about 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the vermicelli or broken spaghetti to the soup and cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro or parsley.
  • Serve the Chorba hot!