It may be near the end of summer here in Algeria, yet the heat and humidity are not letting up just yet.
So why am I sharing a soup recipe?! After all, isn’t soup associated with cold winter or rather any.season.of.British.weather??
Here we enjoy soup all year round and especially in Ramadan to break our fasting with. It’s a given that in summer we prefer to eat soup warm than hot.
Today being Ashoora, alot of my fellow Muslimahs are fasting and I thought this soup recipe befitting to share.
Chorba Hamra – Red Soup
Chorba Vermicelle is also known as Chorba Hamra – meaning red.
My recipe is almost identical in ingredients and technique to my Chorba Frik recipes, except for the obvious swap of Vermicelli for Freekeh.
The base flavour is prominently tangy tomato with sweet woody cinnamon and a background heat from Harissa. The ininital flavour that hits your taste buds is of bright lemony coriander and cooling mint.
Unlike Chorba Frik when we add the crushed freekeh grain at the beginning of cooking the soup, Vermicelli goes in at the end and cooks in the residual heat of the pot. Making it the lighter choice of the two soups.
The recipe asks for mutton; which I have in abundance from Eid al Adha. Chicken or Beef or no meat can work too!
My children don’t care much for the depth of flavour mutton on the bone has, therefore I did the soup without. See notes at the end of the recipe below.
Lastly, you may notice I haven’t added any oil in the recipe. Mutton is on the fattier side of red meats, even after trimming off the excess.
Algerian soups are well-known for having a layer or glistening oil on the surface, which is objectively delicious and attractive. This recipe is slightly healthier and equally tasty.
Algerian Chorba Vermicelle – Vermicelli Soup
An Algerian / Maghrebi Ramadan soup recipe made with vegetables, tomato, meat and more importantly Vermicelli pasta.
- 150 g Mutton/Lamb Leg or Shoulder (Halal, boneless, trimmed and cut into small cubes )
- 1 medium Onion (Red, grated)
- 1 tsp Salt (table, adjust to taste)
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper (ground )
- 1 tbsp Coriander stem (fresh, finely chopped )
- ½ tsp Cinnamon (Cassia) (ground )
- 1 tsp Harissa (spice-paste, optional and adjust to taste)
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste (heaped )
- 1 branch Celery
- 1 medium Carrot
- 1 small-medium Courgette (Zucchini)
- 1 small Potato
- 1.25 L Water (freshly boiled)
- 1 small handful Coriander leaves (fresh, finely chopped )
- 1-2 sprigs Mint leaves (fresh, finely chopped )
- 3 tbsp Vermicelli Pasta (dry)
- Prepare the meat and vegetables: remove meat from bones, trim excess fat and sinew from the mutton, weigh the amount needed for the recipe and cut into small cubes, set aside. Wash vegetables, remove ends from carrot and courgette, peel (only partially peel the courgette) and keep whole. Grate onion and chopp coriander stem.
- In a 2L capacity soup/stock pot over medium heat add cubed meat, grated onion and salt. Stir, cover and allow the onion to soften and the meat to brown slightly. This step should take approx 3-5 mins.
- Stir in coriander stem and ground spices to the pot and cover for a minute. Uncover and stir in Harissa and Tomato paste, cover and cook for a couple of minutes – you may need to add a splash of water to the pot to stop it from burning.
- Add the vegetables to the pot followed by the water. Bring upto a boil, lower to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes or until both meat and vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat.
- Remove vegetables, discard celery. Place vegetables along with a ladle or two of liquid from the soup into a blender. Allow contents to cool slightly then blend into a smooth puree.
- Return the pureed vegetables back to the soup, turn on the heat and bring back upto a simmer. If the soup is thick: add a ladle or two more of hot water to achieve desired consistency. Stir in fresh herbs followed by vermicelli pasta and immediately turn off the heat. Cover and allow the vermicelli to cook in the residual heat of the pot for 10 minutes serving. Adjust seasoning and amount of Harissa at the table. A squeeze of lemon juice or dash of vinegar is also recommended.
- You can use different meat such as beef or chicken.
- For a more intense meaty flavour use meat on the bone then remove once cooked, shred and return. Use at least double the weight mentioned in the recipe.
- You may like to add a small handful of chickpeas: pre-soaked the night before. Add at the beginning with the vegetables but do not blend! If using canned chickpeas add towards the end of cooking the soup.