Kubbe (or Kubba) are semolina dumplings (usually) filled with a mixture of ground beef or lamb. It's a recipe I grew to love after visiting family friends who come from Iraq (These are Israeli Jews that immigrated from Iraq). I would totally be in favor of this becoming the national soup of Israel... Harira (which hails from my family's 'home' country) is a similarly delicious sour soup that, sadly, does not compare to the lovely purple-y dumplings in this Iraqi dish.
Sour Beet Kubbe soup is just kubbe (semolina dumplings) that are then cooked in a broth of beets, some aromatics, and a whole lot of lemon juice! The sour is the key component of this dish.
This year, we decided to incorporate it into our Christmas dinner. (A long with Smitten Kitchen's Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Gratin, Ellie Krieger's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, David Lebovitz's Quince Tarte Tatin, Alton Brown's Buttermilk Biscuits, 101 Cookbook's Cranberry Jam, some homemade Cherry/Chocolate ice cream, and a simple salad.)
Also, we opted to make it veggie. This soup is now actually VEGAN. (The only non-vegan component was the meat, and once that's taken care of there's not a drop of egg or milk in sight!)
Making this soup is an undertaking. The minimum amount of time you can expect to spend is about 2-3 hours and that's if you start making the soup first, then the filling, then the dumplings, and boil the dumplings just before your intended serving time. I did it over a more leisurely day, so I made my kubbe first and my soup last. You'll make about 2-3 dozen kubbe (no one should eat more than 3 in one sitting!) so you'll have plenty to share.
For the filling:
1/2 package "Meatless Ground" or "Soy Crumbles" (We used the Yves brand) (You'll need about 6 oz)
-- or an equivalent amount of ground beef (if you *must*)
1/2 tsp Baharat spice blend (or make some yourself, the first 'generic' recipe will do)
1/2 tsp salt
1 (very) small onion (or half a larger onion), diced
Oil for sauteing
For the dough:
500 g semolina flour (I used an italian brand, probably used for bread/pasta making but it was perfect)
200-300 mL of water
pinch of salt
For the soup:
About 6 medium/large beets peeled and diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1 onion, diced
10 cups of vegetable broth (or water) -- I used 6 cups homemade broth + 4 cups water
4 celery sticks, chopped
Oil for sauteing.
2 tablespoons brown sugar -- I used turbinado sugar
1/2 cup - 1 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed please!)
Salt/Pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped celery leaves of cilantro (Optional)
To assemble the dumplings:
You'll probably make more dumplings than you can eat, but they freeze VERY well. I like to portion out 2-3 dumplings/person and only cook that many (they tend to fall apart when left in the cooking liquid too long). Just freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then, when hard, drop them into an airtight container/zip lock back and freeze for up to 6 months. Mmm.
Okay... on to the instructions.
To prepare the filling:
1. In a pan over medium/high heat heat the oil (olive is fine) and saute the onions until translucent.
2. Add the soy crumbles (or ground beef) and cook until it just starts to change color.
3. Make sure to break up any large chunks.
4. When cooking is complete, add the baharat and some. salt/pepper. Allow to cool.
To prepare the dough:
1. Mix the salt and semolina flour.
2. Start adding water, a little bit at a time, until the dough just comes together as you kneed it.
3. You do not want to add too much flour, as it will make your dough hard to work with. It's best to keep a little extra semolina around. Work fast, the dough dries out quickly.
To prepare the dumplings:
1. Place some water in a small bowl for dipping your hands in as you work.
2. Pinch off a small piece of dough (smaller than a golf ball, but not by much) and shape into a ball.
3. Using your thumb, press a deep whole into the ball and use your thumb to create some space in the ball (think "tunnel" more than opening it out. You want to make the top hole small and the "walls" of the dumplings fairly thin.
4. Then, fill the hole 3/4 full with the "soy/beef" filling. Make sure not to over stuff, close off the hole by pinching the ends shut.
5. You might need to dip your hand in water to make sure you get a really good seal on the filling (so it won't escape when boiling).
6. Continue this process until all your dumplings are filled (they should golf-ball sized now).
7. Now is the time to set aside the number of kubbe you expect to need, and freeze the rest.
To prepare the soup:
1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute the celery in some oil until soft. Next add the onions and saute until translucent.
2. When translucent, add the 10 cups of liquid (broth or water) and the beets.
3. Cook for an hour to an hour and a half until the beets are tender.
4. When beets are tender, add a 1/2 cup of the lemon juice and brown sugar and cook for an addition 20-30 minutes.
To cook dumplings:
1. Once your soup is ready (and with the pot still over medium heat), add as many dumplings as you'd like to serve (2-3/person) about 30 minutes before you expect to serve it.
2. When the dumplings float, they are done. Cut the heat and serve the soup. Do not continue to cook the dumplings as they will fall apart.
1. Ladle some of the broth/beet mixture along with 1-2 kubbe into a bowl. Serve with the rest of the lemon juice so people can add some to taste (I like mine extra sour!)