Yemini Jews, who set up simple eateries in Israel after settling there in the 1950s, are famous for their soups and stews, skillfully using bones, cheap cuts of meat and various spices to get a real intensity of flavor. This particular soup is what we cook to brighten up a dreary winter’s night. It is fantastic! If you like, consider adding ground cinnamon as Aleppian Jews do in a very similar soup. A few marrow bones won’t go amiss either.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ of a small head of celery root, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
20 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound stewing meat from lamb (or beef if you prefer), cut into 1-inch cubes
7 cups water
½ cup dried Cannellini or pinto beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water, then drained
7 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon caster sugar
9 ounces Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potato, peeled and cut into ¾ inch salt and black pepper
bread to serve
lemon juice for serving
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion and celery root over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic cloves and cumin and cook for a further 2 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.
Place the meat and water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming the surface frequently until you get a clear broth. Add the onion and celery root mix the drained beans, cardamom, turmeric, tomato paste, and sugar. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender.
Add the potatoes to the soup and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and beans are tender. The soup should be thick. Let it bubble away a bit longer, if needed, to reduce, or add some water. Taste and add more seasoning to your liking. Serve the soup with bread and some lemon juice and fresh chopped cilantro, or zhoug.
“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.”