Though the word is thought to be of Persian origin, this hearty soup is associated with the Turks, whose cuisine spread far and wide during the centuries of Ottoman Empire reign. During this time, chorba's popularity spread to North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe, each region personalizing the soup to taste. Most chorba soups include vermicelli or spaghetti noodles, potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes and garlic. One might compare it to an exotic minestrone (see minestra). Some versions contain chicken or beef. In Turkey and Bulgaria tripe is a favorite addition, in which case the soup is called schkembe chorba or shkembe chorba. No matter the regional variations, chorba is not a delicate soup but rather big, bold and satisfying. Many countries (such as Tunisia) add plenty of extra garlic and hot chile peppers to ramp up the heat quotient. Chorba is also spelled tchorba.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.