As the month of Ramadan approaches and the weather gets warmer what do we make? we make soup, Moroccan Orzo Soup.
Warm weather doesn’t exactly make you think of eating soup but you see my family and I eat soup during most Ramadan nights after breaking our fasts, the weather is cooler and soup is a great way to stay hydrated or at least I think it is? Also it’s traditional from my husband’s Algerian roots to eat soup or indeed anything wet such as sweet meat tagine and this Moroccan Orzo Soup is certainly going on my Ramadan soup rota.
Algerian and Moroccan cuisine are very similar with little differences here and there. The biggest difference I have noticed is that saffron is used widely in Moroccan dishes (no surprise really as it grows there) whilst Algerians use it less often to flavour and colour their dishes opting to sometimes use turmeric instead.
This past month (10th May-10th June) MENA Cooking Club members were assigned dishes from Morocco to try. I went for this Chorba Lsan Tair or Orzo Soup as I was familiar with the sweet option – Makrout and I’ve cooked many a similar Tagine as our other savoury option Berber Tagine. Come to think of it I also know my way around soup pot (who doesn’t?) Anyways, I went with the soup and I’m so glad I did.
Orzo also known as bird’s tongue due to its resemblance is an excellent pasta to use in soup. Especially bronze-cut pasta as it is rougher and more porous, meaning it soaks up the sauce whilst also thickening it plus it retains a little of that characteristic bite ~ in texture which is loved by pasta lovers the world over.
Moroccan Orzo soup is really delicious, It has clean bright flavours of honey-like saffron and the herbs flavour the soup without actually becoming the soup which is great because if your children are anything like mine they look down on all green herbage unless we are talking basil and oregano in pasta/pizza sauce.
I adapted Cooking With Alia’s soup recipe. I didn’t have any celery at home (now I do and it’s been sitting in the fridge just waiting to be cooked, in something, anything and that is just so typical of me) so used a stock cube for a little more depth of flavour and thus reduced the salt. Also I used tinned tomatoes but you can easily use fresh as Alia does if you prefer.
We really enjoyed this soup, some of us even went back for seconds.
- 2 small white onions (peeled and grated)
- 1 small white onion (peeled and kept whole)
- 1 carrot (peeled, cored, and cubed)
- 3 small potatoes (peeled and cubed)
- 1 small bouquet of flat-leaf parsley
- 1 small bouquet of cilantro
- 1/2 pound lamb cut into small cubes (you can replace with beef or chicken)
- spices: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, a large pinch of saffron, and ground black pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1 chicken or veg stock cube
- 8 cups water (2 litres)
- 1/4 400g (16oz) tin chopped tomatoes (or 2 tomatoes boiled for 1 minutes, plunged in ice water, peeled, and cubed)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon smen (clarified butter / ghee)
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta (or any pasta you like)
Prepare the vegetables:
- Grate 2 onions and keep 1 small onion, peeled and whole, to put later in the soup. Carrot, peel it, cut in half, remove the core if it’s woody, and cut it into small cubes. Peel and cube 3 small white potatoes. Tie the parsley and coriander bouquets using one of the parsley branches.
Make the soup:
- On medium heat, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Add the grated onion, cook for 2 minutes, then add the meat and the spices, let the meat cook for 2 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.Add water, stock cube (or use 2 whole celery branches and increase salt to 1 tsp) the 1 whole onion, carrots and potatoes, , the bouquets of parsley and cilantro.
- Cover your pot and let cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the tomato and tomato paste.Cover the pot and let the soup cook for 45 minutes on medium-high heat.
- After 45 minutes, check on the meat to see if it’s cooked. If so, remove the parsley and cilantro from the soup. Discard.
- Taste the soup and adjust the spices accordingly. Add smen (clarified butter / ghee) and orzo. Stir the soup, cover, and let cook for another 10 minutes.
- Serving the whole onion in the soup is optional.