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.
- For the soup:
- 2-4 T vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t turmeric
- 2½ t ground cumin
- 1½ cups yellow split peas
- 8 cups chicken stock, low sodium if commercial
- ⅔ cup pomegranate molasses
- For the meatballs:
- 1 yellow small onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ lbs ground beef (or lamb)
- scant ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- scant ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- scant ¼ cup finely chopped fresh spearmint (or 2 T dried mint)
- 2 t sea salt
- for garnish:
- 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 cook top 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.