Persian Herb Soup with Lentils, Rice and Lamb Meatballs

Herb SoupSince Patrick loves lamb, any lamb recipe that I come across usually gets at least a second look.  This one was particularly interesting because it was for a soup that had lentils, rice, herbs and lamb meatballs – a pot of deliciousness that we could all enjoy, and it was similar to ash joe, a favorite Persian stew.  And now that Simon is working on solid-er (is that a word?) foods than just purees, this seemed perfect for him.  I adapted this from a Food & Wine recipe.  Hope you enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

For the soup:

3/4 cup lentils, soaked overnight

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

3/4 cup white rice (I did arborio.  You want something with a little shorter grain because it is glutinous and helps contribute to the thickness of the soup)

10 cups of water

1 large bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems finely minced

1 large bunch parsley, leaves and tender stems finely minced

1 small bunch mint, leaves and tender stems finely minced

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (Note:  I purchased a bottle of this at a local Persian market.  I’m sure you can also find it on Amazon.  This ingredient is sweet and sour and really adds some depth to the flavor of the soup.  You could always add some lemon or lime juice squeeze before serving to help mimic this flavor if you can’t get this ingredient.)

For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground lamb

1 yellow onion, grated or finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Here’s what you do:

(1) Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and spices and cook until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes.Onions for Herb Soup

(2) Add the lentils (drained), the rice and the water.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens and the lentils and rice soften, about 1.5 hours.

(3) While the soup is cooking, make the meatballs.  Combine the four ingredients and roll into teaspoon sized meatballs.

(4) After cooking the soup for 1.5 hours, add the chopped herbs and cook for another 30 minutes.  Then stir in the pomegranate molasses.

(5) Add the meatballs and allow to cook for another 30 minutes.

You can serve topped with crispy onions or as is.  You may want to add salt to taste.  If you want to make this vegetarian, just omit the meatballs.

Enjoy!Herb Soup

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