Chorba

Chorba

Serves: 6-8
Approx cost: €6.50
Approx calories: ~250
Approx preparation and cooking time: 100 minutes

S o, officially, a chorba is defined as follows: “one of various kinds of soup or stew found in national cuisines across Eurasia”. That said, you can commonly find a certain kind in particular being sold in France in the form of nasty dried soup sachets which you boil up with water for 20 minutes and then end up with a pan full of liquid vaguely resembling something edible. Ok – it’s not that bad, but now that I’ve actually got around to making it myself I sure won’t be going back in a hurry! As per the Wikipedia article, it is effectively a soup with no pre-defined ingredients list so feel free to go crazy with the ingredients. I’ll say that the one I made was pretty darn good, if quite spicy, especially if you ended up biting down on the dried chillies I’d hidden away deep in the stock-pot, so, while a bit of kick is very important to such a dish, don’t go overboard.

It’s a great dish – full of flavour and very healthy. You can swap the beans out for pasta, as you like, and the best thing is it’s really cheap too. The quantity I made was enough for more than 6 huge bowls so it’s definitely something you can stash in the freezer for a day when you don’t feel like cooking much! Enjoy :)

Ingredients

Chorba ingredients

  • 250g Chick Peas, tinned, ready to eat
  • 250g Kidney Beans, tinned, ready to eat
  • 200g Potatoes
  • 200g Lamb (or more, as you wish)
  • 5 large cloves of Garlic
  • 6 fresh Tomatoes
  • ~250g tinned, Chopped Tomatoes
  • 3 tbsps Tomato Concentrate
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2-3 branches of Celery
  • 2-3 Turnips
  • 2-3 Carrots
  • 3 tsps Paprika
  • 2 tsps Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 or 3 dried Chillies
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube
  • 1 Lemon
  • A large handful of fresh Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Start by pouring the oil into a very large saucepan and then peeling the onion and garlic and slicing finely. Transfer into the pan but don’t heat yet. Peel the turnips, potatoes and carrots, chop into small pieces – each piece maybe the size of a quarter of a teaspoon – and add to the pan. Slice the celery, chop and add to the pan too. Finally, slice the lamb very finely into small pieces and add to the pan. Place the pan onto a hot stove and heat through, stirring well to ensure all the vegetables and the meat and oil mix well.
    Cutting the vegetables for Chorba
  2. After you’ve cooked the lamb through, crumble in the stock cube and around 1 – 1.5 litres of water. The soup is obviously better if you serve it with a really good home-made, meaty stock but unfortunately in this case I had none, so nasty stock cube it was. Chop the parsley finely and add to the water. Add in the Cayenne Pepper, the dried Chillies and some freshly ground salt and pepper. Cover the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, by which time the vegetables should have cooked through. While the vegetables are cooking, bring another pan filled with water to the boil and then move to step 3.
    Cooking the vegetables with the stock
  3. Once the extra pan of water is boiling, remove from the heat and place the fresh tomatoes into the water for about 2 minutes. Remove and rinse under cold water and by this time the skin should have cracked and started to peel off. Peel the tomatoes as best as you can and slice off the tops. Uncover the soup pan and gently place the tomatoes into the pan. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, and add the tomato concentrate. Slice the lemon in half and place one half inside the soup. Add the paprika, stir gently, cover again and return to the heat.
    Adding in the tomatoes
  4. Continue to cook the soup for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. By the end of this time, the fresh tomatoes should be breaking down, although give them a bit of a squish with a spoon if they’re not. Add in the chick peas and kidney beans and the juice from the remaining half of the lemon and cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Cooking in the tomatoes
  5. Serve into bowls and enjoy with some good crusty bread. Enjoy, and watch out for those dried chillies! :)
    Chorba

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31 Comments

  1. Looks wonderful! It's actually somewhat cooler here, I don't quite believe it. Will have to make soup soon!

    Reply
    • Thanks Greg! You definitely won't be feeling cool anymore after eating this :D

      Reply
  2. Mmmm this sounds awesome! I like the beans, rather than pasta–makes for a lighter soup. I'm still skeptical about lamb…I just can't get myself to try it. Though, I can eat almost all other meats. I know, doesn't makes sense.

    Reply
    • Hi Caroline – yeah, the beans are really nice! Was it with you I was lamenting my inability to get different beans in France? Well, I came back from my vacation to England with 8 different bags of beans, including some "Black Turtle Beans" (never heard of them)!! Roll on the bean dishes over the next few weeks (months) :D

      Reply
  3. I don't eat lamb but love beans and would thoroughly enjoy this type of meal. I really like that you work in plenty of vegetables to your recipes. This is a colourful, healthy and hugely satisfying looking stew (though I'm holding out as long as possible before digging out the stew recipes – ughhhh… Canadian winters…..).

    Reply
    • Hi Kelly! Quite a few people I know don't eat lamb for various reasons. In this dish it gives a really delicious background flavour, although you can no doubt obtain similar results with a different meat… maybe even shredded chicken would go well!

      Canadian winters – haha, my friend who lives in Montreal sent me some pictures of the snow on her garden table last winter. Doesn't look like a lot of fun :(

      Reply
  4. That last picture is awesome!!! Actually they're all very good. But that last one looks especially great. What tips have you found the most helpful? I'm just getting to the composition chapter…I've been spending a few days on light bouncing and playing with my white balance.

    The soup looks very good too. Mr. N and Mike would love it! Miss A and I aren't huge on soups, but with some good bread I might be persuaded to dig into this one. ;)

    Reply
    • Hi Kristy, thanks a lot! I'm loving the chapter on light at the moment. I used to be into photography quite a bit so I know my way around my camera fairly well but I was always SO bad with using the light available to me, as well as artificial light. I just wish I had a larger, more open kitchen. It's really not the best room for taking photos in :(

      Reply
      • Our kitchen is the worst room to take photos in too. Making this kitchen bigger with more light is on my someday wish list. ;) I've played around in a lot of different rooms, but most of our photos are now taken in the family room. It's been great for the past few months, but I'm nervous about what to do in the winter. I don't want to go back to the orange glow photos.

        Reply
        • Luckily I don't own my own home yet – We're looking to buy in the not too distant future. A bright, airy and beautiful kitchen is pretty much top on my list of "must-haves".

          As for winter – urgh, don't remind me. I'm going to try to take all my photos in the day-time, or at least try and invest in a flash gun for my camera before then (and also actually learn how to use it).

        • LOL! Yep, me too. I'm already playing around with diffusing my flash, but I'm with you – I'm hoping to cook a lot during the day. :) And yes – go for the big kitchen. You won't regret it. Our first house had a gorgeous, big, well-lit kitchen. It's hands-down the thing I miss the most about that house. Have fun house hunting though! It's so much fun.

  5. This looks lovely! I love hearty soups like this … and with some good crusty bread and slabs of butter! It's hot and humid here so turn on the AC and soup it :D

    Reply
    • Ah yeah, good crusty bread and slabs of butter – sounds so wonderful! Not sure if I could handle the soup when it was hot and humid though. Probably best to set the recipe aside for autumn :)

      Reply
  6. A very original recipe! I have heard about chorba, but have never tasted it (nor cooked it). It sounds really delightful. Do you mean there are instant "chorba" soups in France???
    I keep it in mind when colder days come…

    Reply
    • Cheers Sissi – you should give it a try… when it's cooler at least. It's really hearty and tasty. There are indeed "instant" chorbas in France (but then I notice that for a nation of supposed "gourmets" the French sure as hell love their instant meals and soup-mixes. I'm not sure if you can see this link, but Auchan sell packets of chorba online for home delivery. The "good" ones usually have little chunks of dehydrated lamb or mutton inside, small pasta pieces, pieces of beans and some dehydrated veg. You mix the packet with water in a saucepan and heat through for about 20 minutes or something. If you wanted to try it I could send you some, just let me know :)

      Reply
      • I know, Charles, when I observe people buying awful stuff in supermarkets in France I tend to think there are less and less gourmets… On the other hand it's one of the rare countries in Europe when a part of the population never buys any perishable food in supermarkets (in my French family and among my French friends there are some people who never buy meat, fish, vegetables, fruits or cheese in supermarkets; they buy everything at butcher's, fishmonger's, at the farmer markets). I am not sure if I can find such people easily in other European countries… Sadly.

        Reply
  7. This soup looks delicious. If you left pulled out the lamb and puréed it, it would make a fancy 'creamed' soup, then reintroduce the lamb (as pulled lamb!). YUM!

    Reply
    • Hi Eva, thanks for visiting! That sounds like a good idea – I'm a big fan of creamed soups, although I also like "brothy" soups with chunks… I guess it depends what sort of mood you're in! Although don't forget that if it was blended up you'd miss out on all the lovely colours :)

      Reply
  8. I grew up eating chorba in the former Yugoslavia though I wasn't aware the word was of Turkish origin. Although, since my mother made baklava (as well as crepes and a sort of pilau/pilaf), the cultural diversity of cuisines I experienced should have made me suspect the possibility even though we were 'officially' Romanian. :)

    Reply
    • Wow, I always love hearing about what people ate during their childhood in various places around the world. It's so fascinating to know what people are eating, and how different, or sometimes how similar it is. The things you had sound really good – did you appreciate them as a child? I know that I didn't really appreciate it when my mother tried to serve me "non-traditional" stuff :D

      Reply
      • Before we came to Canada at the age of 7, the food I ate was just 'normal' stuff as far as I knew. It wasn't until I went to grade school, among Canadians, that I understood that there were other possibilities. Of course, the other kids' food always seemed more interesting than the stuff WE were having. :) And, as I went to school in a mostly immigrant neighbourhood (lots of Italians and Germans) and my mom worked in a Jewish delicatessen, I was exposed to even MORE possibilities than just traditionally Canadian cuisine.

        The things I didn't like eating at home were more because of personal food preferences than due to cultural differences … my definitions of acceptable vegetables were limited to potatoes, corn, peas and some carrots. I didn't eat salads til I was in my early 20s and I still don't eat the traditional 'garden' salad … Caesar is my salad of choice. :)

        Reply
        • I really want to expose my children to lots of different foods and flavours when they're young. I really don't want a child who grows up with an idea that the only acceptable food is "potatoes and meatballs" and their idea of a vegetable is "ketchup" :p

          I was the same with vegetables when I was younger – I loathed courgettes, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms etc. One day my mother was cooking some fresh field mushrooms and I asked to try them. It was like I'd been missing out on this amazing flavour my whole life – after that I was sold on mushrooms!

        • For me, it was the textures, colours, smells and even associations that turned me off certain vegetables.

          Who knew that I would love crunch raw broccoli (and cauliflower) and carrots that had been cut into small pieces and dipped into healthy dips when all I had ever had was the broccoli boiled until it was soggy and gray, and the cauliflower boiled, egged and fried to a greasy mess? Same with the carrots.

          And, I still can't eat raw tomatoes sliced open and wet and quivering in front of me. While I love salsas or even chunks of seeded tomatoes in big pots of chili or minestrone soup.

          I still won't eat cucumbers sliced into a salad but shredded finely and put in sushi rolls … I'm all over that. :)

  9. This soup looks like it would be a hearty one and perfect for the winter here. But I hope winter doesn't come anytime soon lol. Very nice recipe

    Reply
    • Thanks BG – Nah, I'm fed up with summer now. Humid and warm – let's have a bit of snow already :D

      Reply
  10. Hey Charles, this recipe looks wonderful (although i would leave out the meat), and your photos are excellent too! I'm gonna start working my way through your recipes….

    Reply
    • Thanks Michelle! Let me know what you think :) I'm only sad I made it in the middle of summer… I'm going to make it again when it's cold because I can imagine it will be a real "winter warmer" when it's cold – especially with the chilli :D

      Reply
  11. What a yummy looking chorba. I would give the meat-bit a miss and happily have the rest with a nice crusty slice of bread. Has such amazing flavours – I like all the veg you have added to yours – nice flavours. btw, has your garam masala pkt been delivered yet? If not, I am in India at the moment and can get you a ome-made version :-) Let me know.

    Reply
    • Hi Shilpa,

      In fact I didn't get around to ordering it yet. I was going to ask my mother to send some over from the UK but if you were able to get a home-made version that would be incredible – thank you so much!

      Reply
  12. Ohhh.. I love this dish. Looks delish, very nice presentation.

    Reply
    • Thanks Inessa! It was really good actually, I'd definitely make it again, and it certainly cleared out the sinuses as well with the cayenne pepper :D

      Reply