Chorba or shorba (from Ottoman Turkish چوربا çorba or from Persian شوربا šōrbā) is a broad class of stews or rich soups found in national cuisines across the Iran, Middle East, Maghreb, Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It is often prepared with added ingredients but served alone[1] as a broth or with bread.[2]

Bulgarian bean chorba with tomatoes and red peppers.
Alternative namesCiorbă, shurbah, shorwa, čorba, çorba
TypeSoup or stew
Region or stateBalkans, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, Iran
Main ingredientsWater, Meat, Beans، Vegetables and legumes


The word chorba in English and in many Balkan languages is a loan from the Ottoman Turkish چوربا çorba, which itself is a loan from Persian شوربا šōrbā. The spelling shorba could be a direct loan into English from Persian, or through a Central or South Asian intermediary.

The word is ultimately a compound of شور šōr meaning 'salty, brackish' and با meaning 'stew, gruel, spoon-meat'.[3] The former is from Parthian 𐫢𐫇𐫡 šōr meaning 'salty', and the latter from Middle Persian *-bāg meaning 'gruel, spoon-meat'.

The etymology can be definitively tied to Persian through the cognate شورباج šōrabāj; in Modern Persian, while شوربا šōrbā evolved to mean 'broth, stew', شورباج šōrabāj simply means 'soup'.[4] It is typical for Middle Persian word-final 𐭪 g to either change to ج j or to be dropped altogether in Modern Persian.

The dialectal Arabic word شوربة šūrba or شربة šurba is also a loan from Persian and cannot be etymologically tied to شرب šariba meaning 'to drink'. That said, it is highly likely that phono-semantic matching occurred during the loaning of the word into Arabic, which would explain the orthographical difference.

Chorba is also called shorba (Amharic: ሾርባ), sho'rva (Uzbek: шўрва), shorwa (Pashto: شوروا), chorba (Bulgarian: чорба), čorba (Serbo-Croatian Cyrillic: чорба), shurbad (Somali), ciorbă (Romanian), shurpa (Russian: шурпа), shorpa (Uighur: شورپا / шорпа), çorba (Turkish), shorpo (Kyrgyz: шорпо) and sorpa (Kazakh: сорпа). In the Indian subcontinent, the term shorbā in Hindi (शोरबा) simply means gravy. It is a Mughlai dish and it has vegetarian forms such as tomato shorba.


Shorwa is a traditional Afghan dish which is a simple dish which is usually mixed with bread on the dastarkhān.[5] It is a long process and a pressure-cooker is usually used, as it reduces the process to 2 hours. The main ingredients for shorwa are potatoes, beans and meat.[6] It is commonly served with Afghan bread.[7]

Ciorbă, as called in Moldova and Romania, consists of various vegetables, meat and herbs. Borș is a sour soup that is used in the Moldova region.[8] It is also has beneficial health effects.[9] It is served hot to stimulate digestion and be effective against colds.[10] There are several types of this dish, such as ciorbă de perișoare, leek soup, Romanian borscht, and borș de burechiușe.

See also


  1. "What is Shorba and why is it good for you in winter". Entertainment Times. India. 2019-12-27. Retrieved 2021-05-25.
  2. Roden, Claudia (1974). A Book of Middle Eastern Food. United States: Random House, Inc., New York. p. 109. ISBN 0394-71948-4.
  3. dsal.uchicago.ed. January 23, 2023 Retrieved 2023-01-23. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. dsal.uchicago.ed. January 23, 2023 Retrieved 2023-01-23. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. Bradnock, Robert W. (1994). South Asian Handbook. Trade & Travel Publications. ISBN 9780844299808.
  6. "Shorwa-E-Tarkari (Meat & Veg Soup)". KitchenRecipes.
  7. "Shorwa-E-Tarkari (Meat & Veg Soup) | Afghan Kitchen Recipes".
  8. "Teorii de istorie culinară care ne dezamăgesc: borşul şi mujdeiul, singurele alimente cu adevărat româneşti. Micii inventaţi de Cocoşatu' – un mit urban". July 30, 2015. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  9. "Supa şi ciorba: scurtă istorie". (in Romanian). Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  10. "Ce ciorbă preferă să mănânce românii". A1.RO (in Romanian). Retrieved 2020-03-17.
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