steel-cut oats

Moroccan Steel-Cut Oats Soup (Lahshou) Recipe

Steel-cut oats: I couldn’t live without them!

Is it any wonder I adore Moroccan Food, my first and most enduring culinary love? Who would believe something like this steel-cut oats soup made with water, some grain and spices can turn up such a fabulous dish?

Such is the magic of our beloved Moroccan seasonings.

Just like that French Leo Ferre/Louis Aragon poem/love song, “Oh douce et forte comme un vin!” (sweet and strong like wine), so is the magic of our food. Would you believe I made this for children in summer camp just a few weeks ago? My Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen Cookbook is chock-full of wonderful and incredibly healthy and simple dishes like this steel-cut oats soup.

This is a most unusual combination of flavors, and it works beautifully.

When we were children, we were often given this soup to fortify our diet.  We made it with wheat or barley, but steel-cut oats are just as delicious, accommodate gluten-free diets and are ready in no time.

I have no doubt the funky Arabic name (Lahshou) will bring a smile to quite a few cyber-friends out there!

I have listed dry herbs:

I was hoping you would make it, as we did in my native Morocco, for breakfast, when we need to use our time most judiciously, and the soup ends up getting ready in just a few minutes, a whole gallon of it (don’t divide it: It freezes beautifully!) But of course if you have a little more time, by all means use fresh parsley, cilantro and mint.

Fenugreek (Halba) may smell acrid and pungent, but combined with the other ingredients of the soup, is simply wonderful, and is a superfood. It is easy to find in the spice section or in health food store, and is the essential ingredient in this soup, so be sure not to skip it!

If you use all fresh herbs, grind them all in your food processor in a flash.

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  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water
  • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ground fenugreek
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry cilantro, or a small bunch fresh, stems cut off, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry parsley or one bunch fresh, stems and leaves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry mint, or one bunch fresh, leaves only, minced
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • Good pinch red pepper flakes


Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook, covered, 20 minutes. Adjust the texture and seasonings. Makes a dozen ample servings

9 replies
  1. Y.
    Y. says:

    I have dried fenugreek at home and also seeds. Would it work if I toasted the seeds and then ground them? or can I use the dried one instead? (which I have a lot of, but haven’t used in a while). Thanks!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Y, the recipe doesn’t call for toasting, or grinding, the fenugreek. If I don’t have to add unnecessary steps, why should I? And why should anyone?

  2. Aric
    Aric says:

    This is one of the soups I grew up with, and today I will make it for my wife because she is breastfeeding our newborn and fenugreek increases milk production. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. Lori
    Lori says:

    I made this but also could not find fenugreek. I used a little bit of the fennel frods instead. The cilantro was a bit overpowering the first day but when reheated the flavors were much more mellow and 1/2 cup of soup is so filling.
    I only made 1/2 a recipe of the soup and will be eating this all week for breakfast.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Lori, Ha, no, fenugreek has a flavor not at all related to fennel. Fenugreek is easy to find in better supermarkets, and specialty grocery stores. You can just as easily get fenugreek tea (in tea bags) in the tea section of health foods stores, and empty the contents of the bags into the soup. When you make the soup the way it is instructed, I assure you you will love it, and will not be tempted to divide it. Costs pennies, takes minutes, freezes perfectly.

  4. Levana Kirschenbaum
    Levana Kirschenbaum says:

    Gitta, as good as the soup was as is, that’s how much more wonderful it will taste with the fenugreek. Fairway and Zabars have it, and besides I beleive all health food stores have it. Then, ALL specialty grocery stores have it. FYI: I develop recipes with ingredients I am absolutely certain can be found with no trouble. So: It’s there! Let me know if you found it. I have tons of it in case you are (shot in the dark, I know!) on the UWS. I buy mine at Kalustyan’s A visit there is a MUST!

  5. Gitta
    Gitta says:

    Hi Levana!

    I just cooked this. BUT, without the fenugreek (could not find it anywhere, not even my Trader Joe’s). And, it came out so gooooood! Such a good, hearty soup for such a dreary day :) Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes!



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