Friday, July 8, 2011

Chorba Freek

Chorba Freek or in English Bulgar Soup

This is a traditional Algerian soup, eaten for Iftar every evening. This is a common soup
throughout all parts of Algeria. It has its roots in Turkish cuisine. In fact the Bourek that’s
eaten with the soup maintained its name, Bourek which is a very popular and tasty Turkish
This soup is easy to make, full of delicious sautéed veggies and you can use whatever meat
you like, lamb, beef or chicken. It's even vegan or vegetarian friendly, substitute the meat
with tofu. It's a very forgiving recipe so use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and
leave out whatever you don’t like.

2 pounds lamb, beef, goat or chicken (tofu for vegetarians) with fat trimmed off
1-2 cups diced carrots
1-2 cups diced zucchini
1/2-1 cup potatoes
1 cup diced onion, red onions are great because of their sweetness but any onion will do
1 head of garlic
1 large or 2 small diced tomatoes
1/2 - 1 cup bulgur also known as freek, in Algeria it's green, for being harvested really early. However in the States it's brown.
1/2 cup chickpeas, either from a can or cooked yourself
2-4 tablespoons of tomato paste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ts coriander
1 cup finely chopped cilantro or mint, some set aside for a garnish
2 hot green chilies, optional
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

You can go about this two different ways. You can brown the meat first or you can brown the vegetables. Tonight I did the vegetables first and scooted them to the side and then browned the meat. Take your pick, the end result is basically the same.

Add water, depending on the size of your pot, and the amount of vegetables you have
decided to use, cover the vegetables and at least a good 1-2 quarts over. Of course it really
does depend on how soupy you like soup, you can add less or more.

Bring it to a boil and turn down, cover and simmer until the meat is done. If you like to
pressure cook like me, this works great for Ramadan. Just bring it up to pressure and cook
for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise it cooks for about 30-45 minutes using a regular pot. If
your children are fussy about their veggies, you can trick them into enjoying them. Pull out
the meat or tofu and using a hand blender, purée the vegetables and then add the meat/tofu
back in. This creates the illusion of the soup being veggie-less, but the children still receive
all the nutritional value.
Bring everything back up to a boil and add the washed bulgur, the tomato paste, half the cilantro and the hot peppers (whole) and let the bulgur cook.

When the bulgur is cooked, the soup is done. Serve with a freshly sliced lemon, salad and bread. In Algeria of course you need Boureks, otherwise it just wouldn't be Ramadan now would it?  Eat the hot peppers too; it gives the soup a nice kick.


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