Chorba Vegetable Soup

Always searching for different soups to serve in oryoki, I stumbled upon this one. Chorba is a lovely spiced soup that comes in infinite variations all across the Balkans, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. This is a vegetarian version, of course. Sadly I didn’t have any vermicelli, but we did have soba noodles! Besides pleasing our Japanese guests, the soba were in fact a happy substitute.

For the best flavour, add the right amount of salt to suit your taste and remember to use teaspoons that are a comfortably full 5 ml measuring teaspoon or 15 ml tablespoon 🙂


1 medium red onion
1 bell pepper
2 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
10 g ginger
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
1 litre (4 cups) light vegetable stock or water
20 g vermicelli
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

2 teaspoons cumin
1 long cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon saffron threads

175 ml (¾ cup) canned tomatoes (about half a can)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons lemon juice


  • Peel and dice the onion.
  • Deseed and dice the bell pepper
  • Peel and dice the potatoes.
  • Peel and dice the carrots.
  • Peel and mince the ginger.
  • Remove the mint leaves from the stem and roughly chop.
  • Roughly chop the coriander.

  • Heat a dry frying pan over a medium flame. Remove from the flame and put in the saffron. Let the residual heat from the frying pan toast the saffron, then crush to a powder between a wooden spoon or in a wooden pestle and mortar. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with a little water. Set aside.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high flame. Break the vermicelli into short lengths and drop them in. Cook until al dente following package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water. Set aside.
  • Next, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Add the onions, and bell peppers, and fry until caramelised. Put into a soup pot with the potatoes, carrots, ginger, cumin, cinnamon stick, paprika, turmeric, saffron. Pour in the vegetable stock or water, and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Set over a medium-high flame and bring to scant boil, then turn the flame low and simmer for about twenty minutes, or until the potatoes  and carrots are tender.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried mint if using, and lemon juice. Return to a gentle simmer over a medium-low flame.
  • Put in the cooked vermicelli.
  • If using fresh mint, add along with the fresh coriander, reserving a little to garnish the soup after serving.
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste, and serve with the reserved garnish.

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