Chorba Bayda – Algerian White Chicken Soup.
I’ve always preferred soups made with Lamb and not Chicken, but after tasting this Chorba Bayda / Shorba Baïda or simply White Soup, I’ll definitely be trying more Chicken Soups from now on ان شاء الله.
How to make the soup white? Well, it’s the genius combination of egg yolk and lemon juice. When mixed together and into the soup, the lemony egg mixture turns the soup from brown to white in an instant. That’s also why you see the oil / butter on the surface of the soup more clearly.
The process of stirring the egg mixture into the soup is the same as used for k’bab, except the main aim here is not to thicken, but to transform the colour of the soup. In a small bowl first you mix egg yolk, lemon juice and fresh herbs together. It’s important you only begin mixing the egg yolk and lemon juice together just before you’re ready to add it to the soup, otherwise the lemon juice may begin to ‘cook’ the egg yolk and it could curdle. Next take a ladle of the soup and in a steady stream stir into the egg mixture using a fork. Lastly take the tempered egg mixture and stir, again in a steady stream into the soup. At this point I switch off the heat and leave the covered pot to ‘rest’, allowing the residual heat to cook the egg mixture.
As you can see Chorba Bayda is quite rich which is part of its appeal, along with its gently spicing of cinnamon, a good amount of lemon juice to cut through the richness and what’s a North African soup without chickpeas?
Many add vermicelli pasta or rice to bulk out the soup. I didn’t feel like doing so on this occasion but if you want to, add it 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking and before you add the egg mixture.
Rich and comforting Algerian White Chicken Soup
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter (or smen)
- 500 grams halal chicken pieces, on the bone (skin or skinless it's upto you)
- 1 onion, grated or finely chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (or ¼ black pepper ¼ crushed chilli flakes)
- ½ ground cinnamon (cassia)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (to taste)
- 1 litre water
- 400 gram tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or pre-cooked from dry chickpeas about 120g dry weight)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 1 small bunch of coriander or parsley, chopped
- In a large cooking pot fitted with a lid, warm oil and butter over medium heat, add chicken pieces and brown on all sides, this should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. I prefer cooking chicken with the skin on as it helps keep it from drying out and then remove the skin just before or when eating.
- Remove the browned chicken from the pot and set aside. In the same pot add onion, carrot and celery, cook over a low-medium heat scraping the bottom of the pot to remove any browned chicken bits. Cook until the onion has softened and is translucent. Add garlic, spices and seasoning and return the chicken to the pot, sauté for a minute or so more. Add water, bring the soup up to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a steady simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.
- Now add the chickpeas, cover and let it to cook for 15 minutes more. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, in a small bowl mix together egg yolk, lemon juice and coriander/parsley with a fork, slowly stir in a ladle of the soup. Now steadily stir this mixture into the soup. Switch off the heat and leave the soup covered for 5 minutes before serving warm with crusty bread.
If you like you can add a handful of broken up vermicelli noodles or washed rice 10 -15 minutes before the end of cooking time and before you add the egg mixture.