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May 10, 2010

Recipe for bouktouf


When you voted to try bouktouf from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, I winced just a little bit. The recipe for this Algerian vegan soup calls for two bunches of cilantro, and I am one of those "cilantro tastes like soap" people. It turns out that the bright orange color isn't the only surprising thing about this soup; the addition of a large amount of lemon juice tames the flavor of the cilantro, in a good way, and gives the soup a lovely freshness.


Here's the original recipe, word for word (because nobody could improve on it!). I cut the recipe in half when I made it, and ended up with 5 cups of soup. And I cooked it in a 5-quart Dutch oven.

Serves 6-8.


1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced (I used Idaho potatoes)
3 large zucchini, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
Juice of 4 lemons, or to taste
2 bunches cilantro, coarsely chopped, stems included
Salt (I used 1 tsp kosher salt)


Heat the oil in the bottom (where else?) of your soup pot over medium-high heat. The oil should form a deep puddle. Add the onions and sauté them slowly, longingly, until they are limpid, about 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes, zucchini, and tomato paste. Just barely cover with water, turn the heat to high, and cover. Once brought to a strong simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low.

When the potatoes are very soft and the zucchini has given itself to the soup, about 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and cilantro, and season to taste with salt. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to a smooth consistency; alternatively, working in batches, pureé in a regular blender until smooth. The soup should shimmer in the ambient light. Serve hot or cold.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Kirsten | May 10, 2010 at 12:16 AM

Wow! This sounds so amazing! Thanks for listening to your readers!

Posted by: Milton | May 10, 2010 at 06:17 AM

I cant wait to make this. THANKS A million...need to buy a blender first...grrr

Posted by: marcia | May 10, 2010 at 11:32 AM

wow, a CUP of oil that's not discarded after wonder it "shimmers", eh? This one may have to wait until the winter when I'm not scrambling to fit into summer vacation clothes! Thanks for trying it for us.

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | May 10, 2010 at 11:39 AM

It sounds creamy and delicious, and of course the cilantro is a plus for me!

Posted by: Judy | May 10, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Thanks, Lydia! This looks and sounds amazing. I am one of those people who can't get enough cilantro! I actually voted for Shorbat rumman, but I ended up buying the book (through your Amazon link), so I can have my book and eat my bouktoof, too! The writing is delightful.

Posted by: CJ McD | May 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Sounds like a perfect soup. Right up my alley.

Posted by: Maria | May 10, 2010 at 02:09 PM

I am a cilantro lover and this soup looks fantastic!

Posted by: Lydia | May 10, 2010 at 03:06 PM

Kirsten, this was so much fun that I'm definitely planning to do it again. And I'll always listen to what my readers want.

Milton, a good immersion blender is less than $50, and will last a lifetime.

Marcia, I agree, it sounds like a lot of oil! When I made half the recipe, I did use half a cup of oil; it bathes the onions and then a lot is absorbed by the potatoes. You'll see.

Kalyn, Maria: This is a soup for cilantro lovers! Even so, I was surprised at how much I liked it, even though cilantro is definitely not at the top of my list.

Judy, I promise to make more soups from this cookbook in the future. And I know you'll enjoy the book; apart from being a good soup cookbook, it's a really fun read.

CJ, a perfectly delicious soup!

Posted by: Joan Nova | May 10, 2010 at 07:40 PM

Sounds really interesting. I'd like to try it one day.

Posted by: Can-Can | May 11, 2010 at 07:52 AM

Looks wonderful.
I bought a Kitchen Aid Immersion Blender for $19.95 at Target (in red to match my kitchen). It works just fine!

Posted by: Emily Martin | May 15, 2010 at 05:52 PM

This looks so delicious and like nothing I've tried before. The colour and description are so appetizing, I really want to give this a try!

Posted by: ms.wrecks | January 11, 2011 at 08:04 PM

i'm gonna have to say that i didn't love it...i followed the recipe as exact as possible (my grocery store is currently selling the world's largest cilantro bunches, so i had to guess as to what 2 bunches looked like to most people) and after it was done, i had to do a lot of doctoring, only to end up with a soup that tasted like a not so great tomato soup with too much lemon( and i love lemons, i eat them like oranges). bummer. i'm going to try using it as a topping for chicken and rice or similar and see if that tames the tanginess a bit.

Posted by: Brooke | April 13, 2011 at 08:38 PM

Just came back from a cold swim at Barton Springs and thought I would warm up with Soup Peddler soup at his new pop-in soup store I got the Bouktouf and it was SO freakin' good that I had to hunt for the recipe. Then found this site, and am tickled that Soup Peddler gets around so. Enjoy that Bouktouf and glad to know about Soup Chick!

Posted by: Julie M | January 5, 2013 at 06:50 PM

This is a wonderful soup! It killed my immersion blender, so I'd suggest just the blender batches. After reading about the strength/amount of the lemon juice...I opted to blend everything and slowly add the lemon juice. I used about a 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. I wanted to enjoy all the flavors. Thank you for the recipe!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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