Kubba Hamuth (Sweet and Sour Soup with Stuffed Dumplings)

This Iraqi-Jewish soup is tangy and rich with lemon juice, beets, and chicken dumplings.

Kubba Hamuth

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Debbie Wee

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
8 servings
40 kubbah

My mother sometimes added chicken pieces to her version of this red Iraqi-Jewish soup, but for me, the best part was the tender stuffed dumplings. To make them, she ground up cooked white rice, made the chicken stuffing, stuffed the rice dumplings, and then slipped them into the soup. At least now there is a shortcut, thanks to Claudia Roden in The Book of Jewish Food. While my mother probably pounded the rice in her immense mortar and pestle until it became a paste, now you can pulse it in the food processor and get the same result. Many Iraqi-Jewish recipes call for semolina for the dumpling dough, but my family just used rice. I always thought it was because we were from China. But Egyptians also use rice for dumplings, although they fry theirs rather than put them in soup.


Roast Beets

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh beets (see NOTE)


  • 1 1/2 cups white rice

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 pound ground chicken

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 small onion

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Beet Stew

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons) 

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 10 cups water

  • 4 cups cooked white rice, warm


Roast the beets

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Scrub beets and wrap in aluminum foil. Place foil package on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until beets are easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Unwrap beets and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Hold beets under running water and slide off beet skins with your fingers or a paring knife. Cut beets in half and slice into 1/2-inch half moons. (Beets can be roasted up to 3 days in advance and stored in refrigerator).

Make the Dumplings

  1. Meanwhile, place rice, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove lid and let rice cool. Transfer rice to a food processor and pulse until rice forms a sticky paste, 12 to 15 pulses.

  2. Combine chicken, onion, cilantro, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place a small bowl of water on the counter, and wet your fingers and palms. Rub oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Place a heaping teaspoon of rice paste in your palm and roll into a ball. Flatten rice between your fingers; the shell should be as thin as possible without tearing. Place 1/2 teaspoon of filling in center of the rice circle. Carefully pull sides up over filling and pinch to seal edges. Gently roll dumpling between your fingers and close any holes. Smooth dumpling and check to make sure there are no cracks. Place dumpling on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rice paste and chicken filling; you should have around 40 dumplings.

Finish the Soup

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Add onion and turmeric and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, sugar, salt, and water and bring to a boil. Add sliced beets, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

  2. Uncover pot and gently drop dumplings into soup. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer dumplings until cooked, about 10 minutes. Do not stir; dumplings are fragile and will break if disturbed. Taste stew; it should be tangy and a little sweet. Adjust flavors by adding more lemon juice, sugar, or salt as needed. Scoop 1/2 cup warm rice into each soup bowl and ladle soup and dumplings on top. Serve immediately.


If you don’t want to cook the beets, buy them pre-cooked at a specialty grocery store or deli counter. You can also cut the beets in half and boil them in water for an hour instead of roasting them. If you’re a fan of beet greens, chop them up and simmer them in the stew.

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