Chef Iñaki Aizpitarte's Chorba (Moroccan Vegetable Soup) Recipe
This is a Moroccan vegetable soup that Chef Iñaki Aizpitarte makes for the family meal at Le Chateaubriand. It’s comforting, hearty and marked with richness and warming spices from Morocco. It can vary depending on what vegetables and meat you have in the refrigerator. Here, he's using leftover cooked meat from the night before, along with fresh lamb flank. You could make it with one or the other. The end result is a dish that has stewed down to soft and satisfying texture, then garnished with the bright, sharp flavors of fresh mint, celery, preserved lemons and a lot of lemon juice. Watch the video below and make it for yourself:
IÑAKI AIZPITARTE’S CHORBA RECIPE Yields: 10-12 (makes 19 cups)
For the chickpeas: 1 cup (6.25 ounces) picked over dry chickpeas Salt
For the cooked tomotoes 14 whole small Roma tomatoes, (2 ¼ pounds) (or substitute whole peeled canned tomatoes – see cook’s note) Ice for ice bath Salt
For the soup 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges (about 3 cups) 5 medium carrots, scrubbed, and cut into 1-inch half moon pieces (about 3 cups) 7 small turnips, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges (about 3 cups) 5 whole garlic cloves, peeled Sea salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 ¼ pounds cooked leg of lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces, (see cook’s note) 2 ¾ pounds lamb flank, trimmed of excess fat and cubed, (see cook’s note) 1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin 1 tablespoon ground turmeric Pinch habanero chile powder or cayenne powder, or to taste 2 tablespoons tomato paste 5 small whole preserved lemons, seeded and chopped, (about 1 cup) 2 stalks of celery, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 1 tablespoon celery seeds 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 3 quarts (48 ounces) white chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth 2 cups mixed fresh cilantro and mint (picked leaves), plus more for serving 2 stalks celery, sliced thin (1 cup) 2 small preserved lemons, seeded and chopped (1/2 cup) 2 large lemons, juiced (1/2 cup) 2 large lemons cut into wedges, for serving crusty bread, for serving
For the chickpeas 1. Cover the chickpeas by at least 2 inches of water and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Change the water and add the chickpeas to a large pot with enough water to cover the chickpeas by 1 inch. Bring the water to a simmer, about 10 minutes. Skim off any foam. Top off with (1 cup) more water to cool off the liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low. Bring to a slow simmer again, skim off any foam, and add more water (1 cup). Repeat this process 2-3 more times to slowly cook the chickpeas until they are soft and creamy, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Season with salt. Measure out 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas and set aside for use in the Chorba. Store the remaining chickpeas in the refrigerator for another use.
For the tomatoes Note: If using canned tomatoes, the following process is not necessary, simply halve or quarter the canned tomatoes and reserve for use in the Chorba.
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a pairing knife, make an “x” on the bottom of each tomato, cutting just through the skin. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
2. Working in batches, carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove and transfer to the ice bath to cool.
3. When cool, peel the skin from the tomatoes using a pairing knife and discard. Pat the tomatoes dry and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly season with salt. Slowly roast the tomatoes for 2 hours, then set aside to let cool.
4. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise. Set aside for use in the Chorba.
For the soup 1. In a large wide heavy bottomed pot (a large Dutch oven or a rondeau), heat the oil over medium-high heat (2 to 3 min) and add the onions, carrots, turnips and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until just beginning to soften.
2. Add the meat and garlic to the vegetables in the pot and stir to combine. Brown the meat lightly, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Coat the meat and vegetables with the cumin and turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Stir and toast the spices for a minute until fragrant. Stir in tomato paste and cook for another minute. Then add the reserved tomatoes and chickpeas, the preserved lemon and the celery. Add the remaining spices: coriander seeds, celery seeds, fennel seed and cumin seeds. Top with the white chicken stock and water to cover about one-inch above the meat.
3. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the meat and vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded, adding additional water as needed to maintain a soupy consistency. Remove and discard the garlic. Remove from heat. Adjust seasonings.
4. Stir in the fresh herbs, preserved lemons, sliced celery and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve immediately with the additional herbs, lemon wedges and crusty bread at the table.
Cook’s note: Tomatoes: For this dish it’s important that the tomatoes are of the very best quality. If you are making this dish in the late summer/early fall months when tomatoes are ripe and in season, fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes are ideal. If not, substitute with the best quality canned San Marzano tomatoes you can find. Use two (28-ounce) cans of whole peeled San Marzano (D.O.P) tomatoes, drained and cut into halves or quarters as a substitute for the fresh tomatoes in this dish.
Lamb: This is a rustic dish made from leftovers. It can be made from a combination of leftover cooked lamb combined with raw lamb, or solely raw lamb. The leg of lamb used in this dish was roasted, but lamb (from the leg or shoulder) cooked simply any way will do; it could be grilled, roasted or braised. Roughly 2 ½ pounds of raw lamb will equal approximately 1 ¼ pounds cooked. The raw portion of lamb used in this dish is the very tender lamb flank. In American Butchery cuts, it’s connected to the saddle, but a call to your butcher should get you the right cut. The lamb flank can have a great deal of fat; be sure to trim away excessive amounts, leaving some in for flavor and texture.