The Libyan Lamb soup is a simple and tasty soup, that’s sure to be a welcome guest on your table. A tomato-based soup, with warming North African spices, lamb, chickpeas and orzo pasta. It’s a delicious one-pot meal that that cooks in 30 minutes.
This soup is known Chorba in the Libyan dialect. No other words are given to the name of this dish, that I’m aware of. If you say chorba it means this soup. It’s kinda #theChorba recipe of an entire country. Everyone knows it, everyone loves it, everyone eats it.
This soup so famous and delicious that it is a traditional starter soup for the entire month of Ramadan in Libyan, many families all across the country eat it every night for 30 days. You better believe it’s delicious and satisfying. The custom of serving this soup is to prepare many dishes such as briks, mini pizzas, Arab salad and a lot of fresh baguettes. Libyan love their bread only the freshest out of the oven will do.
So let get busy and learn how to make #theChorba of Libya.
What you’ll need to Libyan lamb soup
Olive Oil. A good quality olive oil is always recommended in the Meditteranean. This recipe is no exception, some Libyan use corn or canola oil. I don’t recommend using these oils often and prefer to stay far away from them for my cooking.
Onion. A good old brown onion is optimal for this dish. I don’t recommend other types of onions for this soup but you can still use whatever you have on hand. That the way of the Arabs, they always use what they have on hand.
Lamb. Surprisingly Lamb is not really popular in North America, it’s such tasty meat and it has a lot to offer in flavour. It can have a strong taste of the lamb if it was too old. (ie. it was closer to be a sheep vs a lamb If you find your lamb is really strong in taste just use cinnamon balances out the flavour. For this recipe, I prefer to select a boneless cut of meat or use the leg cuts and cook the bone with it too. Regardless of which cut of lamb, you choose to be sure to cut the meat in small pieces the size of a chickpea.
Harissa. You find good quality harissa in many well-stocked supermarkets. You can also find it online too MIna & Belazu are both great brands that can be found on Amazon. When I select a harissa product I go to the Middle Eastern food store and purchase Harissa made in Tunisia or Libya. I don’t like harissa with persevered lemon, so I tend to stay away from any harissa that has it in the product. Good harissa should have oil, red hot peppers, garlic, and spice (caraway, coriander, and salt) that’s it.
Tumeric. A must! it’s an essential spice in almost all Libyan dishes.
Cayenne. A little bit will do. If you don’t tolerate spicy food you can swap out the cayenne for paprika. When using paprika just add more of the spice. I recommend 1/2 tsp. It’s mostly for the colour of the dish than anything else.
Tomato Paste. Libyan’s love tomato paste a lot! It’s the base for all their cooking. I’ll use about 2 heaping tbsp in this recipe depending on the brand of tomato paste you may need more or less if it’s super concentrated. I’ve Kirkland brand for this recipe and I used 2 heaping tbsps.
Chickpeas. You can use canned or dried. I prefer to use a can of chickpeas for quickness and convenience. I also like to remove the skin from the chickpea…yes. It’s crazy time consuming and not necessary. But I like to spoil my chickpeas 😅and it does give the chickpeas a nice texture in this recipe. If using dried chickpeas you need to soak 6-8 hours and add the chickpea at the beginning of cooking the soup.
Orzo pasta. Also known as risoni, it’s rice-shaped quick-cooking pasta. You don’t need much in the soup about 1/4 cup.
Caraway. This spice is a signature flavour in Libyan cooking, most of the Libyan recipes will include caraway or Bharat with Caraway being the main ingredient.
Fresh Herbs. Many Libyan families will use a mixture of equal parts parsley, dill, and cilantro. In my home, I only use parsley and cilantro. Use whichever herbs you wish.
Dried mint. This is not an optional ingredient in this soup! When I was told mint was in the soup, I made the classic nose scrunch look too. My husband insisted on me trying it. And here I am insisting that you must try it this way too.
How to make Libyan Lamb Soup.
Saute. cook your onions until golden. Saute the spice and tomato paste.
Simmer the lamb. Add the lamb to the mixture, coat into the tomato paste and lower the heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add water. Cover the meat with water and add the chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add pasta & garlic. Simmer the pasta and the garlic for 5-7 minutes. Stir casually to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Add the herbs. Simmer for 3 minutes. Allow the flavour to marry each other.
The final touch! The mint. Add a tbsp of mint to your hands and rub together allowing powder of mint to fall into the soup. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add serve.
A Libyan classic soup recipe, that’s your sure to love and make time and time again.
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 200g lamb meat, boneless, diced into small cubes
- 1 tsp harissa
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cayenne or paprika
- 2 heaping tbsp of tomato paste
- 1 14oz can of chickpeas
- 1/4 cup of orzo pasta
- 1/2 tsp ground caraway
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs; parsley, dill, or cilantro
- 2 tbsp dried mint
- Heat oil in a 3qts pot at medium-high heat. Add onions saute until golden.
- Once onions are golden, add turmeric, cayenne, and harissa paste. Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. add tomato paste and continue cooking for 2 minutes – At this point, the oil should start to turn red that’s the look we’re going for here.
- Now stir in your lamb and coat everything. Lower the heat to low medium heat for 10 minutes. – the fat from the lamb will create liquid don’t add water yet. Just cover and forget about it for 10 minutes.
- Now it time to add the water, add to 2 cups and bring to a rapid boil. Once the rapid boil has been achieved, you can reduce heat and simmer. At this point add in your chickpeas along with 1 more cup of hot water. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Add in orzo pasta cook for 5 -7 minutes.
- Once the pasta is cooked it’s time for the finishing touches. Add in the garlic, caraway, and herbs.
- The last set to making this soup is the mint! Take a tbsp of the dried mint place it in your hands and rub your hand together over the soup. The should fall into the soup as a fine powder. allow the mint to cook for a few minutes.
- Serve the soup with lemon slices, baguettes, and salad.
- Don’t skip the mint – it’s what gives the soup the classic flavour
- If your using soaked dried chickpea add during step #3
- We peel our chickpea’s for this recipe as it gives a better texture – But it’s not necessary.
- Category: Soup
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: Libyan