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Food

Einat Admony’s Beet Kibbeh Soup

Photo by Quentin Bacon

Kibbeh Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Part of me wants me to call it Iraqi borscht, but that wouldn’t do it justice, and I’m afraid the name would create too many misconceptions. This soup is tangy, thanks to beets and lemon being boiled together into a broth. My recipe uses a combination of rice flour and semolina instead of plain semolina, which is harder to find in the United States. I worry that this recipe won’t be around in two generations—I don’t know anyone except my sister, me, and a handful of Iraqi grandmothers who still make it. I’m relying on you to carry on the tradition!

Soup Base
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into 1⁄2-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium beets, peeled and cut into 3⁄4-inch chunks
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 cups cold water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup sugar

Kibbeh
1 pound ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup jasmine rice, finely ground
1 cup water

For the Soup Base
Heat the olive and canola oils in a large pot, add the onion, and sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the leek and celery and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the beets, salt, cumin, and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add the cold water and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar until thoroughly mixed and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

For the Kibbeh
Mix together the ground beef, onion, celery, mint, and parsley in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil, 1 tablespoon of the salt, the cumin, the cinnamon, and the pepper. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Next combine the semolina flour, ground rice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1 tablespoon salt, and water in another bowl. Mix thoroughly and let it stand for 5 minutes.

To assemble the kibbeh, moisten your hands with a little water, then place a heaping spoonful of the semolina mixture in the palm of your hand. Shape it into a flat disk, then drop a full tablespoonful of meat into the middle. Carefully wrap the semolina flour around the meat mixture—it should be about the size of a golf ball.

To Finish
Gently place the kibbeh in the simmering soup and cook for another 20 minutes.

Excerpted from “Balaboosta by Einat Admony” (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2013.

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