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Shourba Libiya

This soup is one of my favourites and I am happy to have it as a meal on its own, as it is quite filling and hearty!

While I enjoy soup any day of the year, it is especially comforting to have during Ramadan, as it goes down easily after fasting. It is also a time when most people like to enjoy a warm soup almost every day and are keen to try new recipes. Today I'll be sharing with you my friend's mum's recipe for Shourba Libiya, which simply translates to Libyan soup, and I am sure you'll love it just as much as me.

This soup is one of my favourites and I am happy to have it as a meal on its own, as it is quite filling and hearty! This tomato-based soup is fragrant with the Libyan spice mix, known as Bzar, and just like across the Middle East, each family has their own preference. The family recipe I will be showing you uses a mixture of turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. I also love the mixture of fresh and dried herbs in this soup, and as soon as you add the dried mint at the end, the smell is heavenly, and you know you've done it right. I like to add spicy paprika to my soup for a nice smokiness and kick, but if you are not into spicy food, you could add mild paprika or leave it out completely.

Shourba Libiya is traditionally made with lamb that is cut into tiny cubes, but many families use chicken, instead. You could also make a vegetarian version of it. The addition of chickpeas is optional, but I think they add another layer of flavour and texture that I just love. The soup comes together really quickly, and then it is left to simmer until your lamb is soft and cooked through. Though the amount of orzo pasta you use it up to you, but I think up to a cup is enough, as you don't want it to absorb all the liquid from the soup. If you are making this ahead of time, I would recommend adding the pasta closer to serving time, as the soup will thicken the longer it sits, but this can be easily remedied by adding some more water and adjusting the seasoning back to your liking.

Once you've plated your soup, make sure you add a squeeze of fresh lemon, as it brings the entire dish together and really makes the flavours shine. I am confident this soup will be added to your Ramadan soup repertoire!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

500g lamb chunks, cut into small cubes

1 large onion, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped coriander

¼ cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp Bzar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Salt, to taste

200g tomato paste

1 tin chickpeas, drained

1.5-2 litres water

1 cup (or less) of orzo

1 tbsp dried mint

Lemon, to serve

Instructions

  1. To make the Bzar spice mix, mix together 2 tbsp turmeric, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp cinnamon, ½ tbsp ginger and 1 tsp ground cloves.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, and then add the lamb. Brown the lamb on all sides and then add the onions.
  3. Once the onions have softened, add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the Bzar, cinnamon and salt, and cook.
  4. Mix in the herbs and continue to cook. Add the water and bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat, and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes or until the meat is soft.
  5. Add in the orzo, mix well, and cover. Leave until cooked through, stirring occasionally to avoid the pasta sticking to the bottom.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, mix in the dried mint and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and enjoy.
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