Algerian Classic Spiced Soup Herira



8 servings




4 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. white vinegar


4 tbsp. corn oil
2 lbs. boneless lamb leg, cut into 1 inch cubes, or
2-1/2 lb. chicken parts, leg, thigh, breast
1 md. onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 ripe tomatoes (1 pound), chopped
10 sprigs fresh coriander; chopped
6 sprigs flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 ribs celery, strings removed and sliced
1 tsp. salt, or
to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground caraway (divided)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. hot red chili powder
1/2 tsp. saffron stamens or
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground anise
7 cups water
1 cup dried chick peas, soaked overnight in water and drained
1/4 cup brown lentils, soaked overnight in water and drained
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup rice, well rinsed, or
4 oz. angel hair vermicelli
Lemon wedges for serving


PREPARE THE CHAMIRA: Mix the flour and vinegar together: Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm place in the kitchen overnight or longer to ferment. Add to the soup toward the end of the cooking process.

PREPARE THE SOUP: Pout the oil, lamb and onion in a large pan and stir fry over low heat for 5 minutes to change the color.

Add the tomatoes, coriander, parsley, celery, salt, pepper, ½ teaspoon caraway, cinnamon, chili powder, saffron and anise and mix well. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the chick peas and lentils and cover the pan. Simmer over low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Add the tomato paste, rice and chamira and stir frequently for 15 minutes so that the chamira does not stick to the pan. Add the balance of the caraway (1/2 teaspoon) and remove the soup from the heat.

Serve warm with lemon wedges and squeeze as much juice into the soup as desired.

Serves 8 as a first course.

The Great Book of Couscous

Author's Comments

An inspired soup with a wide assortment of spices, seasonings, lamb or chicken and the unique chamira—a fermented potion that thickens the soup somewhat and adds characteristic flavor.

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