Spicy Freekeh Soup with Meatballs

  • Yield: 6 servings

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


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