Recipe: Kibbeh bi'kizabrath (cilantro-tomato soup with Syrian meatballs)

Total time: About 1 hour, 45 minutes

Servings: 8

Note: Adapted from Poopa Dweck's "Aromas of Aleppo." A meat grinder is required for this recipe. Rice flour can be found at Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

Kibbeh (meatball) filling

1/4 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped inner celery leaves

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

In a medium bowl, mix together the beef, celery leaves, allspice, salt and vegetable oil.

Kibbeh shells and assembly

1/2 pound chuck roast

1/4 cup rice flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Kibbeh filling

1. Grind the chuck roast in a meat grinder. Add the rice flour and salt and grind twice more until the mixture is smooth and well blended.

2. Roll the beef-rice mixture into 1-inch balls. In a small dish, combine the oil and lemon juice. Dip your index finger into the oil and lemon mixture (this keeps the shell mixture from sticking to your fingertip) and hollow each ball by using your fingertip to press the round ball against the palm of your hand, and firmly rotating that finger. The shell should be as thin as possible, about one-eighth inch, without allowing the filling to break through.

3. Fill each kibbeh shell with about 1 teaspoon of the filling. Close by pinching the shell firmly over the filling, smoothing with a little water. The meatballs may be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Makes 16 kibbeh.

Cilantro-tomato soup with meatballs

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cloves garlic, chopped, about 1 tablespoon

6 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons kosher salt

12 to 16 kibbeh

1 cup chopped cilantro

1. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic. Sauté over medium heat until soft, 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and salt, raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

2. Add three-fourthscup of water, return to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Add the kibbeh, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Just before serving, add the cilantro.

Each serving: 157 calories; 10 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 20 mg. cholesterol; 598 mg. sodium.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette