Algerian berkoukes soup; a rich north african spiced, tomato based soup with giant couscous.
This soup or stew depending on how it’s made uses Berkoukes; large grain couscous also known under many names such as aïche, moghrabieh, plombs etc. The other ingredients including spices vary from region to region but usually smen a fermented clarified butter and khlili a berber dried mutton fat are used to give the dish it’s special flavour and richness.
I didn’t have any smen or khlili and the berkoukes was hard enough to find here in the north of England so I ordered it online. I sufficed using ghee – clarified butter and on-the-bone lamb to add extra flavour and richness.
My recipe is adapted from La Petite Paniere and for further knowledge on the dish visit The Teal Tadjine
Algerian berkoukes soup is a wonderful addition to any table, especially during winter when you need the extra warmth and comfort and do I dare say, calories.
No need for bread with this soup as the berkoukes is all the carbohydrate you’ll need.
- 2 tablespoons of clarified butter or oil
- 300g halal lamb neck on the bone, pieces
- 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh coriander root
- 3 carrots, small cut into medium rounds
- 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
- Black pepper
- 3 bay leaf, small
- 1 teaspoon of red sweet paprika
- 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- To taste Cayenne / Chili / Harissa
- 1 ½ litre water
- 1 potato, medium dice
- ½ courgette / zucchini, medium dice (same size as potato dice)
- ½ tin of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 100g of Berkoukes (giant couscous or moghrabieh)
- To garnish:
- coriander leaves
- In a food processor place onion, celery, coriander root and chop until very fine.
- In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt clarified butter put meat and brown on all sides, remove and set aside.
- Reduce heat put the onion, celery, coriander ‘paste’ and a splash of water in the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot to lift the meat residue, cook until the liquid evaporates and the onion ‘paste’ has softened, 5-10 minutes.
- Add carrots, garlic cook for 1 minute stirring often before returning meat adding tomato paste, spices and seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes more stirring often then add water, cover, bring to boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for 40 minutes.
- Add, potato, courgette, chickpeas and berkoukes stir and recover pot. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes (stir every 10 minutes or so) until the berkoukes and veg are cooked through. Serve warm with a sprinkle of coriander leaves.