Marak Kubbeh Adom (Iraqi Jewish Beetroot Dumpling Soup)

Kubbeh in a white bowl of beetroot soup with vegetables
Kubbeh in a white bowl of beetroot soup with vegetables, with a spoon pouring more soup over the top

Marak Kubbeh Adom (Iraqi Jewish Beetroot Dumpling Soup)


The very first time I tried Marak Kubbeh Adom coincided with my very first time making it. Fair to say, I fell in love with it. It’s the ultimate cold weather comfort food. Marak Kubbeh Adom is a Kurdish specialty, semolina dumplings filled with fragrantly spiced beef or lamb and simmered in a crimson red beetroot broth. By no means am I claiming this to be an authentic recipe, but it’s my own take on it, and it’s been received well to say the least! To make this recipe vegetarian/vegan simply replace the meat with mushrooms.

Ingredients

Red Soup:

  • approx 400 grams bone-in beef shank
  • 3 litres cold water
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 large onions, halved
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper kernels
  • 1 large beetroot, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large beets, cut into wedges
  • 6 dried apricots
  • 1 large carrot, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 zucchini, cut into wedges

Kubbeh Filling:

  • 1/4 cup pine seeds
  • 3 large onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 450 grams minced lamb or beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional, to balance flavours)

Kubbeh Dumpling Dough:

  • 6 cups semolina
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups cold water

Instructions

Red Soup:

  1. Fry the beef shank in a pan with some olive oil until it becomes nicely browned on both sides.
  2. Add the beef shank, water, onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, 1 beetroot, and black pepper kernels to a large soup pan and bring to a slow simmer. Turn down heat and cook, with the lid on, for 6 hours or overnight. 
  3. Strain the soup through a colander. The vegetables can be discarded, or pureed and added to pasta sauces or blended soups (not this one though). Transfer the meat to a plate and pull apart into small pieces. Scoop out the bone marrow and add this to the shredded meat. Discard the bone. This reserved meat will be used in the kubbeh filling.
  4. Pour the soup back into the soup pan and add the tomato paste, paprika powder, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, and adjust seasoning to taste. There should be about 2 litres of soup. Add the remaining beets, carrots, and dried apricots.

Kubbeh Filling:

  1. Dry toast the pine seeds in a large frying pan until golden. Tip into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Fry the onions in the same pan in butter or olive oil until golden and caramelised. Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, sumac, paprika, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add the minced meat and continue to fry, while breaking the meat apart with a spatula. Add the reserved shredded meat from the beef shank and salt. Fry in the pan until the mixture is fully cooked through and half has become slightly crispy.
  4. Tip the meat mixture into the large bowl with pine seeds, and add the chopped parsley and honey. Mix well with a large spoon. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Kubbeh Dumpling Dough:

  1. Mix the semolina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix gently with a fork. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

Making the Kubbeh:

  1. Fill a small ramekin with olive oil, you’ll be using this to oil your hands throughout the process of making the kubbeh dumplings.
  2. Oil your hands. Take the dough and divide it into small handfuls of equal size (you’ll end up with about 30 kubbeh). Flatten each piece in the palm of your hand and fill with a spoonful of the kubbeh filling mixture. Press it in with your thumb. Wrap and pinch the edges. Pass it between your hands to seal the cracks and make it smooth. After the first few kubbeh, you’ll get the hang of it and the process will become easier. If a kubbeh cracks, take a small pinch of the semolina dough and cover the crack, smoothing the edges of the kubbeh ‘band-aid’. Lay each kubbeh down on an oiled sheet of parchment paper. 
  3. There will be more kubbeh dumplings than there will be soup, so you can store the extras in the freezer. I do this by layering them between sheets of parchment paper, in tupperware. 

Assembly:

  1. Drop 10 kubbeh into the soup and simmer for 45 minutes. During this time, the kubbeh, beetroot, and apricots will cook through. In the last 10 minutes, add the carrot. In the last 5 minutes, add the zucchini. Now it’s ready to be ladled into a bowl as soup, or eaten with rice for a satisfying main course. 

Notes

  • I will be making a vegan version of this soup soon, but until then you can easily make this one vegan by replacing the meat with mushrooms. Both in making the broth, as well as in the kubbeh filling. In that case you won’t need to simmer the broth for as long, 2 hours will be more than enough to get all that good flavour out of the vegetables and mushrooms. 
  • The beetroot is a must for this version of Kubbeh, but the carrot and zucchini added at the end can be omitted, added in varying quantities, or replaced with pumpkin, okra and/or celery.