Persian Pomegranate Soup with Meatballs

This hearty soup makes a warming main dish on a cold evening. Small, subtly spiced lamb meatballs, spinach and parsley flavor the tangy broth. The unusual and delicious sweet-sour Persian touch comes from sour pomegranate juice and a touch of sugar.

Slideshow: Warming Soup Recipes

  • Servings: 6-8

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  • 1 pound lean ground lamb
  • 2 medium onions, grated on the coarse holes of a box grater
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, such as basmati, Texmati or Thai jasmine, rinsed
  • 2 cups sour pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 pound fresh spinach, large stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried spearmint
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Warm pita bread, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large bowl, combine the lamb with the onions, cinnamon, allspice and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands. Roll teaspoons of the meat mixture into firm balls and place on a lightly oiled platter; you will have about 50 meatballs.

  2. Pour 10 cups of cold water into a large saucepan. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour pomegranate juice, spinach, parsley, sugar and the meatballs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, partially covered, until the rice is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

  3. Rub the mint between your fingers to form a fine powder. In a small bowl, combine the mint with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

  4. Ladle the soup into large bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of the mint mixture. Serve the remainder on the side, along with the lime wedges and pita bread.

Make Ahead

The meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 week.


The yellow sour fruits are not sold here, but Middle Eastern groceries sell pomegranate syrup, also called pomegranate molasses, made from juice of the sour variety cooked down with a little suger. Look for Cortas brand pomegranate molasses from Lebanon. In recipes calling for sour pomegranate juice, dilute 1 tablespoon of pomegranate syrup in 1 cup of warm water. Alternatively, you can use sweet pomegranate juice, soured with 1 tablespoon of strained fresh lemon or lime juice per cup of pomegranate juice.

Contributed By Published December 1995

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