Persian Pomegranate Soup with Meatballs
- SERVINGS: 6-8
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 AheadThe meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 week.
NotesThe 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.