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Harissa-Spiced Beef and Pasta Soup (Libyan Shorba)

4 to 6 Servings

1¼ hours

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On any given evening during the month of Ramadan, a soup similar to this graces many Libyan tables. Packed with fork-tender meat, plump orzo, warming spices and bright herbs, the comforting meal is adored nationwide—so much so that it’s called “shorba,” meaning, quite simply, soup, with no confusion as to which soup is being referred to. For a more traditional flavor profile, replace the beef with boneless leg of lamb. Seasoning the dish with dried mint is a must; its citrusy notes balance the harissa, a smoky North African pepper paste that brings both chili heat and complex spicing to the soup. Our favorite brand of harissa is DEA, sold in a yellow tube. Look for it in the international aisle of the supermarket. Though optional, we love incorporating Aleppo pepper for additional layers of bright yet earthy heat.

4 to 6



Don’t forget to stir often after adding the orzo, making sure to scrape along the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. Cook until the pasta is plump and fully tender, not al dente; it most likely will need more time than the package directions instruct.

1¼ hours


  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 1

    pound boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes


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