Libyan Soup with Chicken and Thyme (Sharba Libiya bil Dajaj wa Alzatar شربة ليبية بالدجاج والزعتر)


As its name suggests Libyan Soup holds a special place in Libyan cuisine. It’s an aromatic soup that combines olive oil and a typical Libyan mix of herbs and spices. During Ramadan, it takes pride of place on every Iftar table. There are countless versions of this soup, and everyone has their own favorite recipe. While the classic Sharba Libya is with lamb and mint, this is a lighter version with chicken and thyme which is particularly suitable for breaking the fast.


Libyan Soup with Chicken and Thyme : Sharba Libiya bil Dajaj wa Alzatar شربة ليبية بالدجاج والزعتر

Serves 4



  • about 400g chicken
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 cup  finely chopped parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 cardamom seeds
  • 7 cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh thyme as needed ( you can use dried thyme instead )
  • 1/2 cup lisan asfour (bird’s tongue) orzo pasta
  • about 11/2 liter boiling water



Cut and skin the chicken, chop the onion, tomatoes and the parsley.

Pour the oil in a pot, add chopped onion, drop in the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf, stirring until the oil is infused. Remember to split open the cardamom seeds.

Add the chicken, tomato paste and stir

Add the spices,  fresh tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 liter boiling water, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Then add about 1-liter water and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces, cinnamon sticks and the chicken pieces, de-bone the chicken pieces and cut into bite-sized chunks set aside. Add the remaining amount of parsley, and lisan asfour (orzo), cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Turn of the heat, drop the chicken pieces back in, rub a handful of dried thyme between the palms of your hand straight into the pot, then give the soup a final stir.

Pour the hot soup into small bowls and Serve with lemon wedges and fresh bread.

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