Sunday, March 3, 2013

Soup #9 / Mini Kufta Ball Soup

This week's soup was a special treat since I got to make it with my mama.  E called and said he was working a later shift, and I had the night off, so I went over to spend the evening doing what we do best - cooking! My mom is observing lent, so finding a vegan soup was a challenge, but she found this recipe and we decided to give it a try.  I did bring some home to share with E so he can put his 2 cents in as well, but this venture was mostly something Mom and I did together - it was VERY tasty!  

Remember that this is from an Armenian kitchen, where we make a lot of things "atchkee chop" or "measured by eye"... and by taste. Always remember to just go with it and add a little more or less here and there to make it the way you like it. Bon apetit!

You will need: 

For the kufta balls: 
1 cup of Cream of Wheat
1 cup of fine bulghur
1 Tbsp mint finely rubbed between your palms 
2 heaping Tbsp of tomato paste
1 cup of water
1-2 tbsp of roasted red pepper appetizer
Add salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together and let it stand a few minutes and then knead it into a dough.  Roll it into small balls, like marbles (maybe a little larger). We counted that it made 108 balls.  Wet your hands if the dough starts sticking to them.  Put these balls in a pot of boiling water and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

The broth:
Another can of tomato paste
One can of garbanzo beans – OR – about a cup of small pasta
Dried mint
1-2 lemons
One big onion
Olive oil

Brown one large onion, chopped,  in some olive oil.  Add enough water to make broth for the family ( I did about 8-9 cups for our batch).  Add a can of tomato paste plus whatever tomato paste you have left over from the kufta balls.  If you'd like, and you have extra, add some red pepper paste to taste. Stir some mint (also atchkee-chop) tablespoons of mint powder. Allow the broth to simmer about 10 minutes, taste, and adjust the seasonings to your liking.  Add about 3 big cloves of mashed garlic, one can of garbanzo beans (or small noodles/macaroni).  Add the cooked kufta balls, and the juice of one or two lemons and boil for another 5 or 10 minutes.

The verdict:  I really enjoyed this soup and loved that it was a fully vegan meal that wasn't based in beans which meant no bloated feeling after. OK, so we did feel a little stuffed, but I think it was because we had seconds! I loved the flavor of the broth - Armenian style, but with a bit of a kick, and the kufta balls are the consistency of gnocci, which I also love. E is not usually a fan of the kufta balls but enjoyed the taste of this soup, and was surprised at the consistency and flavor of the kufta balls.  Even as a non-vegan, or when lent is over, I would definitely try this one again!

What we'd do differently:  I would love to try this out with some noodles instead of the garbonzo beans, and maybe with a little more mint than we added, and some madzoun (yogurt) on top, although that makes it non-vegan. And on the non-vegan side of it all, I'd be interested to see what it would taste like with chicken broth instead of water.  

Thank you Mama for cooking this soup up with me and helping me catch up on my posts! If you want to check out more vegan/vegetarian recipes, check out my mom's blog here, and you can read some of her other non-food related posts here.