I like the phrase Comfort Food. Sometimes, food does give you the feeling of comfort, nostalgic. It is very cultural though. When I see food shows in the US, and they show all these fatty, fried foods, or foods in heavy gravy or sauce, and describe them as Comfort, I don’t get it. That for me would be the opposite of comfort.
Comfort food is about fresh, home-made from scratch food. Best if it brings you back to your mother’s kitchen, a Friday night at your grandmother’s or family in general. It is the kind of food that fills your home with the smells of home. Like a personal invitation.
It is the food that does not only fill you up physically but impacts you emotionally. It makes your day better. When I think of my home and my children there are dishes that I know will always bring them back to this moment. To the current us. And that makes me extreamly happy.
One of these dishes, that I did not grow up with from home, but that I started making, and mastering, because my husband likes it is Red Kubeh Soup.
Red Kubeh Soup comes originally from Iraq
but like so many other traditional recipes,
it has traveled to many other cultures.
The Iraqi version, I make, has a sweet and sour taste to it
because of the use of lemon salt.
First thing to make is the soup: although there are many versions to this, this is my version…. It is based on a recipe a good friend of mine wrote down on a piece of paper many years ago. A paper I still keep because it reminds me of when I started making this wonderful soup.
To Make The Soup:
Heat the soup pot with a bit of olive oil (really just a tiny bit for flavor)
Grade 2 big tomatoes (beef stake) and put in the pot and let it simmer a bit.
Add leaks sliced thin.
Add a small can of tomato paste and mix well.
Add water til it is 3/4 full.
Optional: if you’d like to add chicken this is the time to add some breast or thighs and if you add chicken let it now boil for at least 45 minutes on medium heat.
Add pumpkins cut in squares (not small), and celery, carrots and any other vegetable you like.
Then add beets- these give the dark red color to the soup. It is important not to cut the beets too small- nice sized cubes. I usually cut small beets into quarters or big beets into 8 cubes. Add to the soup.
Add about 1/2 spoon of lemon salt. Not too much as it will make it sour. If you feel you need more salt, add a bit of regular salt. I do not like this soup to be too salty as it takes away from the fresh taste of the vegetables.
While the soup is on low heat it is time to make the Kubeh. These are small ball shaped, or round flat, semolina meat filled kind of dumplings.
There are many versions of kubeh, some made only with semolina,
and some where semolina and Bulgur are combined.
I like the second version as it gives more character and flavor.
Put 1 cup Bulgur in water – so the water covers it. Let sit 10 minutes or so. The Bulgur will absorb the water.
Then add 2.5 cups Semolina flour and mix well.
It should make a nice dough that is easy to work with. Add semolina or water as needed.
Add 2 spoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Kubeh can be filled with practically anything you like-
Meat Kubeh can be made with ground meat, celery, cilantro and spices. All cut up very fine as
you need a small amount of filling for these.
Another option is Flank steak, boiled until very soft and falling apart. Add cinnamon, a bit of salt and pepper.
Vegetarian options can be filled with mushrooms, onions sauteed with salt, pepper and cilantro, or with well spiced pumpkins.
My kids also love empty ones so I always put some empty ones in the soup as well.
If you are filling the kubeh, make the filling before you start the soup to let it cool down before you fill the kubeh.
Fill the kubeh, close them well in the palm of your hand. You can add them to the soup immediately. If you fear them falling apart you can make them a day ahead and freeze them and put the frozen ones in the soup. Add 5 kubeh at a time and let them rest before adding more to the soup. The soup should be boiling hot when the kubeh are added.
If you add freshly made kubeh to the soup, the soup will be ready to eat about 15-20 minutes after the last kubeh has been added. If you added frozen ones, let it boil for 20-30 minutes.
The kubeh will be soft but not falling a part.
When I make kubeh, I usually make a lot and freeze some. I add them to practically any soup we make as a nice dumpling addition.
Enjoy and let me hear from you!