minted meatball soup {mintball soup}!

the other day i made this soup on a whim~i was really craving my grandma’s goosh bareh, but did not have the time or patience to go through the process of making it. besides, i’m trying (not so successfully i might add) to be good and limit my carbs, so i decided to leave out the dumplings (as in, the dough). if you make this {mintball} soup and prefer not to be so good and have no issues (lucky you) with carbs, gluten, or white flour (all the things we have to worry about these days-it’s laughable) then go ahead and add noodles to your soup about 10-15 minutes prior to serving. i had posted a picture of this soup on my facebook page ( last night, and my dear sister-friend who used to enjoy (understatement) my grandma’s goosh bareh with me back in the day (miss those days) had commented: “looks like simplified goosh bareh to me.” as you can imagine, this put a big smile {:-)} on my face. you know me (too) well, my friend! can’t wait to have a bowl of soup with you real soon. xx
ingredients for 6-8 servings:
  • (about) 1 pound (7% fat or less) ground organic grass fed beef
  • 1-2 tsp dry mint (or fresh, very finely minced)
  • 1 medium onion-cut in half: puree 1 half in processor (or with grater), finely mince (or cube) the other half
  • 4 stalks of organic celery, finely minced
  • 1 tbp olive oil
  • sea salt (to taste), freshly ground pepper (1-2 tsp)
  • 1 cup good quality stewed tomatoes (or fresh cubed)
  • 1.5 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2-3 cups good home made broth (beef or vegetable)
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint leaves for garnish
  • 1-2 fresh limes

1. in a bowl combine: ground beef, sea salt (to taste), freshly ground pepper, grated (or pureed) onion, and 1-2 tsp mint. combine the mixture together (preferably by hand) until everything is evenly distributed, then start making little meatballs (the size of a small truffle-smaller than a ping pong ball).
2. in a heavy deep pot or dutch oven heat the oil and add the minced onion and celery. sautee until softened and just golden, then add the meatballs and allow them to cook/fry on one side before carefully turning them to cook on the other (about 3-5 minutes on each side on medium/high heat).
3. add the pureed (or fresh) tomatoes, 1/2 to 1 cup water, and the broth, and allow the soup to cook (simmer) for about 30-40 minutes. if you are adding noodles, add them now and adjust the liquid (little more broth or water) if necessary.

4. add the fresh spinach (i prefer not to cook it for too long) about 5 minutes prior to serving, stir well, and simmer until softened.
5. serve garnished with a few sprigs of mint and a lime wedge-or add a squeeze of fresh lime juice to the bowl. dig in!

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a collaborative effort: mommon’s goosh bareh, or lamb’s ear (not really) soup

goosh bareh, a spicy tomato based soup with delicate beef filled dumplings originates from azerbaijan, to the north west of iran. it is my grandmother’s specialty (she was born in azerbaijan), and as i remember it, she was often asked by friends and family to make it (probably because once you have this soup, you will crave it forever). my sister and i loved the ritual of making the little lamb’s ears (or beef filled dumplings that are thought to resemble lamb’s ears), and would beg to be allowed to help-when i say ritual, it truly was a collaborative effort to make this dish. when my grandma (and her gang of helpers) made it, they made enough to share with family members, friends, and sometimes (at least it seemed like) the whole neighborhood.  in reminiscing about the old days with my sister, we decided it was time for us to make our first attempt at making goosh bareh—we thought it would be relatively simple…we used to do it all the time as kids, right? well, halfway through our first attempt we realized  we were no experts at this. the main issue we came across was that we didn’t make the dough thin enough (more like the dough was not cooperating). if you decide to make this-and you should- one day when you have some time and patience on your side, make sure to make the dough as thin as possible, and to keep the thin sheet of dough moist on one side (with a moist cloth) while you work on the other. cover the dumpling you make with a damp cloth to keep them moist as well. as you can see, we didn’t really follow our own advice, and our dumplings looked (and tasted) relatively dry (hard).

for the dough:
these goosh bareh’s actually came out a little thick-you should strive for thinner dough-
i will update my pictures when i make my next (and hopefully much thinner) batch

  • 2 cups self raising (all purpose) flour (you can make your own self raising flour by combining 1 cup all purpose flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt). 
  • 1 organic egg yolk only
  • 3-4  tbsp cold water (adjust as needed-let the dough talk to you:)
  • pinch of sea salt
sift together the flour and salt (in a bowl or on a cutting board), and make a well in the middle, add the egg yolk and water and start kneading the dough until smooth. cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 30 minutes.
for the meat filling:
  • 1/2-3/4 pound minced lean grass fed beef (or lamb)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, very finely chopped or 2-3 tsp dried mint
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional for spicy)
  • mix all of the above together, and make small (size of a chickpea or slightly larger) sized meatballs.
cut the dough in straight criss crossing lines making squares that are about 1.5 by 1.5 inches, and place a little meat ball in the middle of each. bring 2 corners of the squares together ( you may want to use a touch of water for the edges)-this is where the patience comes in-then twist the 2 corners of the triangle around your fingers to make the ears (see pictures below)

finely chopped mint & shallot

ok, we are almost getting there…
for the soup-you will need really good home made chicken broth :
  • 1 whole organic chicken (you can used the cooked chicken for a salad or soup)
  • 1 large onion
  • sea salt, cracked pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small bunch of parsley
  • 4-5 cups filtered water
  • let it cook (slow simmer) for at least 60-90 minutes, then strain
for the soup:4-5 cups good chicken broth

  • 3 large vine ripened tomatoes, preferably peeled, all but one pureed-the remaining one cubed
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs saffron water (saffron strands seeped in a few drops of warm water)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2-1 serrano chili, deseeded, finely chopped (optional for spicy)
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbs dried mint (not spearmint)
  • a splash of olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime

add the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt & pepper, chili pepper, dried mint, and olive oil to the broth and bring to a boil, let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, then add 1/2 of the chopped (finely cubed) tomato, saffron water, and 1/2 of the parsley, simmer for another 5 minutes, then add the dumplings (you can also cook them separately in boiling salted water and then add to soup), and cook for about 10-12 minutes until they are soft. add lemon juice and remaining cubed tomato and parsley just before serving. remember to taste the soup and adjust your seasonings. welcome to the exclusive goosh bareh lovers club!!

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