Spicy Freekeh Soup with Meatballs

  • Yield 6 servings

Freekeh is a slightly smoked green wheat. Look for it online or in Middle Eastern grocery stores.

Bulgur is an acceptable substitute for freekeh, but it will cook much more quickly, about 25 to 30 minutes


14 ounces ground beef, lamb or a combination
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch cubes
2 celery stalks, cut into 3/8-inch cubes
3 large tomatoes, chopped
21/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon baharat spice mix
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1 cup cracked freekeh
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
31/4 cups hot water
1/3 ounce cilantro, chopped
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges


  1. Start with the meatballs. In a large bowl, mix together the meat, onion, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using your hands, mix well, then form the mixture into Ping-Pong-size balls and roll them in flour; you will get about 15. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and fry the meatballs over medium heat for a few minutes, until golden brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs and set aside.
  2. Wipe out the pan with paper towels and add the olive oil for the soup. Over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the freekeh and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the freekeh is plump and tender. The soup should be quite thick, reduce or add a little water as needed. Finally, taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Ladle the hot soup into servings bowls and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve the lemon wedges on the side.

Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.



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