Chorba Aadess a hearty green lentils soup.
Packed full of veggies and optional meat (or chicken). This one pot meal is on every Algerian table on rotation during the colder months and now will hopefully be on yours too.
Flavoured with tomato paste and Ras el Hanout ‘head of the shop‘ North African spice mix. Garnished with fresh coriander leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
You can leave out the meat or replace it with chicken for a lighter flavoured Chorba Aadess and it’s still a super comforting and nutritious soup. In fact, I often make a stripped back version of this soup without even the celery or coriander and I like it just aswell because the lentils give oodles of earthy flavour!?
Ok maybe not the tastiest way to describe green lentils or anything really except maybe beetroot? but the flavour is hard to describe.
Ras el Hanout as you may have guessed from the name, varies from shop to shop throughout the Maghreb region of North Africa. Therefore, I can’t promise your soup will taste exactly the same as mine but I dare say you won’t be disappointed in the flavours.
If you haven’t Ras el Hanout at home already and don’t want to buy or venture making it at home, go ahead and use another spice mix or just cumin. I’ve found curry powder works particularly well.
Here are a lots of photos of how I make Chorba Aadess.
Of course you can make the process quicker by using a pressure cooker. Alternatively If making without meat, soak lentils in water with a bit of baking soda while you prepare the vegetables etc. This helps soften the lentils so they cook quicker. Drain and rinse then add to the pot in step 3 – see recipe ⬇
Did I mention before I’m scared to cook using a pressure cooker? Well I am, very much so. Especially after watching Rick Stein’s India series, where if I remember rightly he mentions pressure cookers exploding. He’s scared of them too!
I was surprised to see how popular pressure cookers are here in Algeria. I came here expecting everyone to still be using clay pots/tagines i.e. slow cooking and while that may be the case elsewhere in Algeria, I haven’t experienced it here yet.
If you do happen to cook Chorba Aadess or any of my recipes I would love to see.
A hearty green lentils soup from Algeria and North Africa
- 1/3 cup green lentils (1/3)
- 2 tablespoons Sunflower oil
- 3 pieces of halal beef, on the bone ( or 1 halal chicken neck and 1 back – broken into two pieces) *optional
- 1 teaspoon plus a small pinch salt (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1 medium red onion, grated
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
- 1 potato, peeled and diced small
- 1 small courgette, peeled in stripes and diced small
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato, skin removed and blended)
- 1/2 tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander, or stem from small bunch of coriander, finely chopped.
- 1 celery stick, kept whole or 3 young celery tied together
- Small bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive oil, for drizzling at serving
- Wash lentils well and allow to soak in water while you prepare the vegetables. Drain and rinse lentils then add in step 3.
- If using, brown meat/chicken in pot in oil with half the salt and black, pepper, remove and set aside. Saute in same pot onion, garlic and coriander stalk (if using) along with bayleaf for about 3-5 minutes until onion has softened. Add ras el hanout (add ground coriander now) stir and cook a minute more.
- Add vegetables (not celery), followed by lentils and tomato paste stir then cover and allow to cook for a few minutes. Return meat/chicken to pot along with celery. Add 1.5 litres hot water. Bring to boil, cover, lower temperature to medium and allow to cook 1 hour. If using chicken or meat, remove, shred from the bone and return to soup. Remove celery and discard. Add coriander leaves and turn off the heat. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
1 UK cup =250ml If you like thinner soups add more water whilst cooking.