Category Archives: Soups

Spicy Meatballs or the Albondigas

In Ladino or Latino, a fifteenth-century Spanish dialect spoken by Sephardic Jews, Albondigas are small round meatballs spiced with lots of black pepper. Here they are fried and baked together with mashed roasted eggplant puree. But there are uncountable variations with the recipe, the way how it’s served on the table and of course it’s being used in the soup. For those who love spicy, they love spicy soup as well.


For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb (500 g) ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and a good amount of freshly ground
  • black pepper
  • Flour for dredging (optional)
  • ¼ cup (90 ml) corn oil

For the eggplant puree:

  • 3 medium eggplants (aubergines)
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground almonds (optional)

Albondigas with chips
Albondigas with chips
  1. To prepare the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400’F (200 Celsius, gas mark 6).
  2. Combine the meat, onion, bread crumbs, egg, salt, and lots of freshly ground pepper.
  3. Mix well and form into plum-sized balls.
  4. For a crisper finish, the meatballs can be rolled in flour before frying.
  5. Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan and fry the meatballs on all sides until well browned.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
  7. Reserve pan with drippings.
  8. To prepare the puree, grill or roast the eggplants (aubergines) over an open flame or under the broiler (grill) until soft.
  9. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and chop.
  10. Add sugar if desired .
  11. In the remaining oil in the pan in which the meatballs were cooked, stir the mashed eggplant over medium heat.
  12. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking.
  13. Add the garlic, salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper (spicy, remember?).
  14. Cook for another minute and remove from the heat.
  15. To assemble, transfer the eggplant to a shallow ovenproof dish and lay the meatballs on top.
  16. Press them down into the eggplant mixture, and spread on top whatever juice remains in the bowl from the meatballs.
  17. Sprinkle on a few ground almonds if desired.
  18. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
  19. Serve warm or at room temperature, with fresh bread.
Albondigas soup
Albondigas soup
Albondigas soup
Albondigas soup

Israeli Love Potion for the Male or Kibbeh soup

Every Friday at lunchtime, the Kurdish or Iraqi Jews of Jerusalem disappear from the streets, sneaking off to their mothers and grandmothers to have a dish of what is known as their ”love potion”, Kibbeh soup. I was looking for ways to be adopted into such family. Didn’t work.kibbeh-soup

For the stuffing:

  • 2 chopped onions
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb (500 g) ground beef
  • Salt or powdered bouillon (stock cube) to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground allspice

For the dough:

  • 1 slice day-old bread
  • 2 3/ 4 cups (500 g) semolina (or cream of wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons margarine, softened
  • Salt or powdered bouillon (stock cube) to taste

For the soup:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 10 cups (2.5 liters) clear chicken soup or bouillon (stock)
  • 1 beet, peeled and sliced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and sliced
  • 4- 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • Leaves of 4-5 parsley stalks, chopped
  • Leaves of 4-5 cilantro (coriander) stalks, chopped
  • Leaves of 4-5 beets, chopped
  • 2 -3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon salt, or juice of 1 large lemon
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. To make the stuffing, fry the chopped onions in oil until soft.
  2. Add the meat and crumble it as it fries.
  3. As the meat loses its raw color, add 1 ½ cups (375 ml) boiling water.
  4. Cover the pot partially and continue cooking until liquid evaporates and the meat is thoroughly cooked.
  5. Add seasoning and mix well.
  6. To make the dough, wet the bread and squeeze out the water.
  7. Mix the semolina and flour and add the bread.
  8. Mix well.
  9. Add the other ingredients and mix again.
  10. Add ¼ cup (90 ml) water and blend until the mixture is a smooth and pliable dough.
  11. To assemble the dumplings, form plum-sized balls and cover all with a wet cloth.
  12. With moistened hands, make a dent in each ball, stuff it with about 1 tablespoon of the filling, and close the dough around the filling.
  13. Set aside.
  14. To make the soup, fry the onions in oil over medium heat.
  15. Add the chicken stock, beet, turnip, celery, herbs, and beet leaves.
  16. When the vegetables are soft, add the tomato paste and garlic.
  17. Dissolve the sugar and lemon salt (or lemon juice) in ½ cup (125 ml) boiling water and add to the soup.
  18. Taste and season if necessary.
  19. As the soup boils, add the dumplings and continue to cook for 45 minutes.


Sell your Soul for Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is a popular dish in Israel (and Middle East too), and it has many variations. The recipe always begins with fried onions, but other additions differ from community to community.

Israelis of Moroccan descent consider chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves essential. Eastern Europeans often add sausage or smoked meat to their lentil soup. Some Israelis add a little lemon to make it perfect. Others add thin egg noodles, or beet stems to make it green.

Camera+ recipe? ? scene: Flash

Orange lentils dissolve during cooking. Brown and green lentils maintain their shape, and can be ground as well. As a rule, the fresher the lentil, the better flavor it has and the less swelling it causes in the stomach. Add salt only at the end of cooking; salt tends to prevent beans and lentils from softening.

This is one of the many reasons why so many women are looking so critical when they buy something from a shop or market and they indeed do have a point. If you like to visit an Israeli market and you rent an apartment and buy vegetables for the evening’s dinner, please do the same.

In Genesis (25:29-32), Esau sold his biblical birthright in exchange for lentil soup. Which recipe was it? Here is one Israeli version.

Lentil Soup
Lentil Soup

  • 1 lb (500 g) brown or orange lentils
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2-4 beef marrow bones (optional )
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt or beef  bouillon (stock cube)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, turmeric, and/or cumin (optional)


  • 1 bunch cilantro (coriander), parsley, or celery leaves, chopped
  • Fresh lemon wedges
  • Toast or sliced baguette

Lentil Soup
Lentil Soup
  1. Pick the lentils over carefully; there is always a danger of small, tooth-breaking stones.
  2. Cover them with water and soak for 3 or 4 hours. Drain.
  3. In the bottom of a large soup pot, saute the onions until soft and then add the garlic.
  4. Continue to saute for another minute and then add the lentils, bone marrow, celery, and 6 or 7 cups (1.5 to 1.75 liters) water.
  5. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 1 ½ hours until the lentils are soft.
  6. Add salt or a bouillon cube and add some ground black pepper to taste.
  7. Add paprika, turmeric, or cumin, as desired.
  8. Cook for a few minutes longer, taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary.
  9. The soup can also be blended before seasoning to make a velvety puree.
  10. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls.
  11. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro (coriander), parsley, or celery leaves on top and place a lemon wedge on the edge of the soup plate.
  12. Accompany with a slice of toast on which to spread the bone marrow.
  13. If bone marrow is not used, the toast can be rubbed with half a clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
  14. Alternatively, the toast may be placed on the bottom of each bowl and the soup poured over it.

So, if you think that how anyone could sell his biblical birthright in exchange for lentil soup is foolish, I want to know what your opinion is after you tasted this soup. It’s truly heavily. If you’re a tourist, and you taste this soup and go home, take this recipe and save it somewhere, so you can always try to make this soup as good as you’ve tasted here in Israel.

Historically, the recipe for this soup is already old, ancient even. A strong indicator of the age of this recipe is the reference of the soup in the bible, not? One of the few references to any type of recipe by he way.

Variations of this soup are of course many, but what variation will work for you the best is something, which is personal. I personally like the rich soups with loads of meat. Others do like the smooth texture of a soup and others something in the middle. My wife likes the spicy variant and I love the sweet variant of the soup.

The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli

Chicken soup in Israel is the typical chicken soup of Eastern European Jews. Its most important characteristic is its aroma. Every Friday morning, often even on Thursday afternoons, homes and streets are filled with the aroma of chicken soup being prepared for the Friday evening Sabbath meal.

The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli
The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli

When you’re going to prepare the chicken soup according this recipe, you will recognize the aroma of the chicken soup as you can smell it in Jerusalem.And of course, there are billions of variations possible with chicken soup, but this recipe is based on the old fashioned chicken soup you can find in Israel.

The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli
The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli

There are two tricks to accomplish that:

  1. Cover the bottom of the pot with bunches of parsley and dill, along with their stems. The contact with the direct heat imparts a special flavor and reduces the  amount of bubbling.
  2. The second trick is to just cover the chicken with water, using as little liquid as possible .

  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 bunches dill
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 lb or 1.5 kg)
  • 1-2 celery roots, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 3-4 carrots, each cut in half
  • 1 potato, quartered
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • Coarse salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ green pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
  • 1-2 allspice kernels (optional)
  • Feet and gizzard of the chicken (optional)

The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli
The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli
  1. Place the parsley and dill stalks on the bottom of a large soup pot.
  2. Rinse the chicken in cold water and place it on top.
  3. Peel the celery roots, onions, carrots, and potato and tuck them in and around the chicken.
  4. Add the whole peppercorns, salt to taste, sugar, and any or all of the optional ingredients.
  5. Add only 6 cups (1 .5 liters) water.
  6. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer gently for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  7. Remove the chicken, and separate the meat from the carcass.
  8. Put some of the meat back into the stock, and reserve the rest of the meat for a second course (I cut the chicken meat into smaller pieces and dump them back into the pan with the soup).
  9. Taste and correct the seasoning.
  10. Cool the soup, and if desired, place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to collect at the top of the pot.
  11. Skim, reheat and add the customary noodles or kreplach (stuffed ravioli).
The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli
The Only Jewish Chicken Soup with Noodles or stuffed Ravioli