Comforting Syrian Soup Pulls Almost Everything from Pantry

Christopher Kimball wrote . . . . . . . . .

This recipe from our book “Cook What You Have,” which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals, requires just one refrigerated ingredient: ground beef (ground turkey works well, too). Also made with canned tomatoes, rice and boxed broth, the soup can be ready in about 40 minutes.

Inspired by a recipe from “Aromas of Aleppo” by Poopa Dweck, we mix allspice and red pepper flakes into the meat mixture. You also could substitute cumin or cinnamon or combine them all for a slightly different flavor profile that would be no less traditional.

The prep is easy, too. To boost the flavor of the meatballs and the broth, we grate onion and garlic so no knifework is required. What’s more, there’s no need to brown the meatballs. As you form them, simply drop them into the simmering broth when the rice is about halfway done and everything will finish cooking at once.

Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro freshens the soup, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses adds a tart sweetness that balances the richness of the meat.

Syrian-Style Meatball Soup with Rice and Tomatoes

Start to finish: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

1 pound ground beef OR turkey
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater, divided
5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
2 teaspoons ground allspice OR ground cumin, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes OR ground cinnamon OR both Kosher salt and ground black pepper
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 quart low-sodium beef OR chicken broth
1/2 cup long-grain white rice OR basmati rice, rinsed and drained

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 cup of the grated onion, half of the garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the allspice, the red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix with your hands until well combined; set aside.

In a large pot, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the remaining onion, the remaining garlic, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is browned and sticks to the pot, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with juices, the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then stir in the rice. Reduce to medium and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes; the rice will not be fully cooked.

Using dampened hands, pinch off a 1-tablespoon portion of the meat mixture, form it into a ball and drop it into the broth. Shape the remaining meat mixture and add to the pot in the same way; it’s fine if the meatballs are not completely uniform. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the soup is slightly thickened and the center of the meatballs reach 160°F, 10 to 15 minutes. Off heat, taste and season with salt and black pepper.

Optional garnish: Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley OR chopped fresh cilantro OR pomegranate molasses OR a combination

Source: AP






Lobster and Frog


1 lobster, about 2 pounds
1/2 lb frog leg meat
1 ginger slice
1 spring onion, cut into sections
1 tsp minced garlic


6 tbsp chicken stock
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar


  1. Reserve head and tail of lobster. Cut meat into pieces. Blanch shell and meat in hot oil. Drain.
  2. Blanch frog meat in hot oil. Drain.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil and fry ginger slices, spring onion sections and minced garlic. Add lobster and frog. Stir-fry briefly. Add sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until sauce thickens.
  4. Place head and tail of lobster on the ends of the serving plate. Arrange the lobster and frog in the middle. Serve hot.

Source: Great Chefs in Hong Kong

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Quick Chorizo and Mixed Bean Stew


1 tsp olive oil
450 g fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (540 mL) no-salt-added white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (540 mL) no-salt-added mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup sodium-reduced chicken broth
2 cups packed baby spinach


  1. In large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook chorizo and onion, breaking up chorizo with wooden spoon, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, paprika and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in kidney beans, mixed beans, broth and 1 cup water; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in spinach, cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes servings.

Source: Mediterranean Flavours

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Calves’ Brains Zingara


2 calves’ brains
white wine vinegar
20 firm white button mushrooms, wiped
unsalted butter
1 lemon
4 slices of ham
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp white wine
1 cup veal jus
leaves from a bunch tarragon, snipped
all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
vegetable oil
black pepper

Potato Cakes

2 baking potatoes
rock salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for frying
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp snipped chives
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 free-range egg yolk
all-purpose flour, for dusting
oil, for frying
black pepper


  1. Rinse the brains in cold water, then put them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar to keep the brains from discoloring. Quickly bring the water to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool, then gently remove the brains, drain them well, and pat dry with a clean cloth.
  2. Make sure the mushrooms are clean. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan, add the mushrooms and a squeeze of lemon, then cover and cook until tender. Cut the mushrooms into slices or matchsticks and keep the cooking liquid to add to the sauce.
  3. Cut the ham into pieces similar in size to the mushrooms. Dice the tomatoes.
  4. Make the sauce. Sweat the chopped shallots in a little butter over medium heat, then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the mushroom-cooking liquid and the veal jus, then reduce to a sauce consistency. Finish with a tablespoon of butter and seasoning, then add the mushrooms, ham, tomato, and finally the snipped tarragon. Keep warm.
  5. Using a small knife, remove any sinew from the brains and cut them into slices. Dust in seasoned flour and gently fry the brains in a tablespoon each of oil and butter until golden brown — 3 or 4 minutes on each side.
  6. Make the potato cakes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the potatoes, place them on a bed of rock salt on a baking sheet, and bake until tender, 40 minutes. Let cool, then cut them in half and scoop out the flesh.
  7. Mash the flesh with a fork and add the 2 tablespoons butter, cream, herbs, egg yolk, and seasoning. Shape into little potato cakes about 2 inches across by 3/4 inch high, dust with flour, then fry in oil and butter until golden and hot.
  8. Serve the brains with lots of the sauce and the potato cakes.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The French Kitchen

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Venison Wellington with Port Sauce


2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 1 kg well-trimmed boned venison loin fillet
2 banana shallots, finely chopped
5 Portobello mushrooms, very finely chopped
5 chestnut mushrooms, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few fresh thyme sprigs
1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
12 slices of Parma ham
flour, for dusting
1 x 320 g packet of ready-rolled, all-butter puff pastry
2 large free-range egg yolks, beaten

Port Sauce

a knob of butter
1 large banana shallot, sliced
a sprig of thyme
1-1/4 cup Port
2 cups fresh beef stock
a few juniper berries


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Season the venison well, add to the pan and brown all over, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add the remaining oil and shallots to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and fry for a further 10 minutes, or until they have softened and browned.
  3. Add the garlic, thyme and truffle oil and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  4. Lay out a double layer of clingfilm about 40 cm long, then lay another double layer above it, overlapping the first by about 10 cm so that you have a large rectangular grid of film.
  5. Starting at the bottom, lay 6 slices of Parma ham centrally, overlapping each slice with the next. Lay the next 6 slices in the same way above this layer to double the width. Spread the mushrooms over the ham. Place the venison at one end of the ham then, with the help of the clingfilm, roll the venison in the ham. Wrap the clingfilm round the venison and roll it tight, tying the ends like a cracker. Pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. Roll the pastry out on a floured board into a 40 cm x 30 cm rectangle.
  7. Carefully unravel the ham-wrapped venison from the clingfilm and lay it along one of the long sides of the pastry.
  8. Roll the venison in the pastry. Trim off any excess from the sides and tuck the pastry under the meat.
  9. Cut any excess pastry into shapes (I’m a fan of stars). Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg yolk over the pastry. Place the pastry shapes on top of the pastry, and then glaze these. Pop the Wellington into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  11. Remove from the fridge and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry has become golden and crisp, which indicates that the venison is cooked through perfectly and will be medium-rare. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  12. Make the Port sauce. Put the butter in a pan, add the shallot and thyme and sweat gently. Pour in the port, bring to the boil and reduce by two-thirds, then add the beef stock and juniper berries and reduce again by two-thirds until syrupy. Strain and serve with the Wellington.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts

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