I almost forgot to share this recipe with you guys, which would have been a crime! It is that good! But boy it has been a weird month. The cruise was enough alone to make everything topsy turvy–I would love to say that we always get out of town in the winter but actually that was only the second time we have ever gotten somewhere warm in winter since having kids. But never mind the cruise. The weather is insane. The kind of insane that is having a daily impact. My kids (when you factor in the cruise also) have had exactly 2 full days of school since mid December. We keep “warming” up, to the teens, at which point it snows again and then we are back down again into the kind of temps that are supposed to plague northern Ohio–or even Canada, not southern. The dogs are going insane (ok only really the puppy, but still) and frankly the kids are a little too. I am loving the 2 hour delays, but not leaving the house is getting a little old.
Which brings me to this soup. Yes I almost forgot about it, but forget about that. It is the perfect soup for these cold winter days. Actually it is so tasty I would go so far as to say I would enjoy it year round, but let’s face it, soup is extra special when it is bitter cold outside. I found the basis of the recipe (I adapted the recipe, but I would say it is still recognizable as the original) in Louisa Shafia’s The New Persian Kitchen, a cookbook that I had been lusting after for almost all of 2013. I think it had a billion asterisks next to it in my wish list. Happily, my husband pays attention to those asterisks and I did indeed receive it for Christmas. Louisa writes the blog Lucid Food, and her book has been lauded by blogger, magazine and newspaper reviewers alike. The recipes are vibrant and veggie heavy, and lean toward the kind of legume and meat based Flexitarian one pot meals we love best. I think I have half the recipes bookmarked!
Unsurprisingly, Louisa suggests lamb meatballs for this recipe. Equally unsurprisingly, living where I do, I used beef. Choose whichever sounds best to you. I also chose to brown the meatballs on one side before dropping them into the soup to simmer.
For those of you who love sweet, tart and savory mixed together–like I do–this soup will be a dream come true. It manages to be hearty without being heavy and warming without making you sweat the way a spicy soup would. The minute I saw the recipe I knew I would be making it, and it did not disappoint. I know you’ll love it too.
- 2-4 T vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t turmeric
- 2 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1 1/2 cups yellow split peas
- 8 cups chicken stock (low sodium if commercial)
- 2/3 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 yellow small onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or lamb
- 1/4 cup (scant) finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup (scant) finely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup (scant) finely chopped fresh spearmint (or 2 T dried mint)
- 2 t sea salt
- pomegranate seeds (count on at least 1 pomegranate, preferably 2)
- 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- chopped parsley and cilantro (I had extra from measuring out for the meatballs)
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally and let caramelize. When they are golden brown, add the garlic. Also keep a cup of water by the cooktop to splash into the pan if the onions start to scorch or stick.
After about 15 minutes, when the onions have caramelized brown, add the turmeric and cumin. Stir, and let cook for 30-60 seconds. Then add the split peas and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Let the soup simmer for 1 hour.
While the soup is simmering, make the meatballs. Stir together all of the ingredients--use your hands toward the end to work the ingredients into the ground meat, but do not overwork the mixture.
Use wet hands to form walnut-sized balls of the mixture.
Place the meatballs in a large nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet (do in 2 batches if necessary to avoid steaming the meatballs) on medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on one side and then remove.
When the soup has been simmering for an hour, stir in the pomegranate molasses. Then carefully add the meatballs. Bring back to a simmer and then cover again and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
Taste for additional salt or pepper.
Serve with yogurt, fresh chopped cilantro and parsley, and fresh pomegranate seeds.
The cold has been pretty bad here, so I can’t imagine how it is where you are! Yikes. It is really miserable, and soup is the only thing that seems to help! Love the sweet-tart-savory nature of this soup! Wonder if I can make it with veggie meatballs, though I don’t see why not!
Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen says
I’ve been eyeing this cookbook. This looks like a perfect soup for this cold weather we’ve been having as of late.
Michelle @ The Complete Savorist says
I’m not sure where you live, but I want to be your neighbor, day after day you post the most exquisite international recipes. This one is so fantastic, I just can’t stand it. I must make it asap.
Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living says
This sounds like the perfect soup for a cold winter day – love the heartiness of the peas in the soup and so interesting using pomegranate molasses. Going to have to try this – pinned!
Dorette Snover says
Totally loving this – sounds so delicious! Especially as we are looking at a cold snap in the next few days. I might indeed lean towards lamb.
Christine (Cook the Story) says
Oh my gosh. This sounds so good. I love pomegranate seeds and really love pomegranate molasses. I’ve never thought of putting them in a soup. Can’t wait to try it!
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
Oh wow! These are so beautiful! They sound amazing. Pomegranate molasses? Cilantro? Meatballs? Drooling… Stay warm (I don’t miss those NE Ohio winters 😉
Maike D says
Can you tell me how many the recipe serves? I love it. I need to know for how many people it is.
Oh gosh I find this to be such an individual thing (one of the reasons I never list servings). For my family of 4 (2 kids, 2 adults) it lasted 2 nights. Hope that helps. It also depends on what you serve with it–for us it was a one pot meal, i.e., no salad or side dishes.
Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I made it tonight, without any changes, and it was delicious! The only change I would make next time is to kick it up a notch with some heat (hot sauce), because we like spicy food.
After the chopping, it came together pretty quickly too. A fabulous mix of colors and textures! Thank you again.
I understand about the heat! Pretty sure it is a never ending source of distress for my husband that my eldest cannot handle any heat. My recipes can always be kicked up a notch as a result.
Michele Turner says
Hi Laura, We are Americans living overseas in Shanghai, China. I made your soup for our dinner club last night, and it was a huge hit. Your blog is super interesting, and I enjoyed walking down memory lane looking at recipes that reminded me of countries we visited or lived. If you ever come through China, look us up! We are street food connoisseurs.
– Michele Turner
Now I am jealous of living in China and having a dinner club! Not to mention being there and being a street food connoisseur. And thanks a ton for the message!
Hi there. Looking at the meatball ingredients and wondering how they bind (stay) together. Is it supposed to have rice? I didn’t see any in the ingredients.
I was curious about the same thing, which is why I chose to brown them on one side. They did indeed stay together just fine. No starch needed. In the original recipe they are just dropped into the soup and simmered but I thought browning one side would help them stay together better. If you try it without browning let me know how they turn out.
Have made this recipe the last few years as our starter for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s delightful. Thank you!
Heidi Jones says
Spectacular – absolutely delicious – had to use green split peas but didn’t seem to hurt it – will definitely make it again – thank you
Thanks for letting me know. I’ve been searching for my food mojo, kind of lost it a bit since Covid, and comments like this really help!
Fantastic dish. Followed the recipe to the letter and it came out lovely.
The missus wanted it kicked up, as mentioned in previous comments, so we tried both with crushed red pepper.
Ran out of pomegranate arils, so I went a little crazy and topped it with chopped walnuts and it was suddenly Georgian or Azerbaijani.
I’m loving this and going to come up with 30 different regional hacks of it. 🙂
I LOVE this comment. This is how my favorite recipes work for me (from other writers)–they inspire me, who cares if I end up with something different as long as it is tasty. Thanks for the comment! Let us know if you come up with anything else that knocks it out of the ballpark.