Moroccan barley soup – Chorbat Tchicha or Dchicha
Barley is widely used in Morocco to make soups, bread, couscous and galettes. Its deep flavour is appreciated across North Africa and people also believe in its health attributes.
Barley soup comes in a white version with milk, a yellow version with less paprika/tomato addition and a red version with a bit of tomato paste or grated tomatoes. The last version gets the Khlii treatment in the city of Fez, which makes it even tastier. It’s a soup that hardly needs spices.
Ramadan lasts 29 to 30 days and soups are served at Iftar/Ftour (the time we break the fast). In our family, we usually have 2 soups of the day because not everyone likes the same thing, but also because there is always leftover soup from the previous day. Barley soup is one of the Moroccan soups that will be served when someone fancies it.
|Tchicha with khlii and agriche and less tomato paste|
If you don’t have khlii or khlii sediments, use a smokey ingredient such as bacon. It won’t be similar but at least it will lift it a bit.
Khlii can be made using an express method. Its sediments are widely used in Fassi kitchen to flavour many dishes. It’s a condiment on its own.
If you can’t have khlii for whatever reason, make a seafood version of this dish by adding fresh prawns (shell on for more flavour) and chopped squids. I won’t suggest supermarket-frozen packets for this recipe.
|Tunisian-inspired version with prawns, it takes a bit more tomato paste|
I also make tchicha soup with the meat from Merguez or mini Moroccan spiced meatballs (with cumin, paprika, parsley and coriander). This could be another option to explore in case you can’t get hold of khlii.
Serves 4 to 6 Prep: 5 min - Cooking: 35 min
- 1/2 cup of barley grits, small caliber
- 1 medium-size onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup of dried broad beans, or 1/2 cup of fresh broad beans (see note)
- 2 liters of water
- 1 cube of bouillon
- 2 tbsp of tomato paste or 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp of ground black pepper
- A good pinch of cayenne or a tsp of mild Harissa
- 1/4 cup of coriander, chopped
- 1 strip of khlii
- 1 tbsp of khlii’s sediments (agriche)
- 2 tbsps of olive oil (if you are not using khlii)
- Salt to taste
Rince the barley grits until water comes out clear.
In a deep saucepan, place water/bouillon, chopped onions and the broad/fava beans. Cook covered until soft.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the coriander and khlii. Stir frequently.
Passed 15 minutes, the barley grits should have become soft. Correct the seasoning, add the chopped coriander and khii. Add water if you think that the soup is too thick.
- Dried broad/fava beans need pre-soaking from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Fresh broad/fava beans can be parboiled for a few minutes before adding them, which comes in handy so you can peel them before you add them to the soup.