Red Kubbeh Soup/מרק קובה אדום/Marak Kubbeh Adom/Kubeh/Kube/Kubbe
This is the beet generation.
This is red kubbeh soup.
Remember how I taught you how to make Israeli-style kubbeh for soup? Now your kung-fu is ready. Now you can defeat soup!
My red kubbeh soup recipe is based on Harry’s, with a couple of tweaks. Harry loves kubbeh. Harry loves kubbeh with an almost intimidating fierceness. A man once came between Harry and a bowl of kubbeh soup and Harry killed him and made his skin into an ascot (he calls it his “soup-eatin’ tie”). Harry always kept a thermos of kubbeh soup warming on the engine of his Merkava, and for every shell fired, he would eat one kubbeh. This remains a Chativa Sheva tradition to this day.
I believe that soup should always be made in ridiculous quantitites and last for days, and my recipe reflects this. There is no better comfort food for the winter. And I have several friends and acquaintances who regularly clamor for “that red soup.” So be forewarned. Making this soup is like going all the way in high school: you’ll have fun and be more popular. Let’s get to it:
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 5 – 6 beets, chopped into large dice
- 1 bunch green (Swiss) chard, chiffonaded
- Other vegetables of your choice (see below)
- Chicken stock
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 – 2 tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 – 5 tbsp sugar
- 1 – 2 tbsp lemon salt (citric acid)
- Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
- Olive oil
That’s actually only about half the amount I call for pictured, but you get the idea…
A few notes on the ingredients:
CHICKEN STOCK: Use real chicken stock. Not from a can. Or use water. Don’t be an Israeli and use Osem powdered parve non-chicken “consomme” to flavor everything. It’s lazy and it makes what would be great food just that much worse. Every spoonful of Osem is another year the Messiah tarries.
VEGETABLES: Your choice of sweet potato, carrot, celery, pumpkin, squash or zucchini.
SPICES: You may have noticed my spice measurements are vague at best. I find that it’s mostly useless to give exact measurements when it comes to soup. Water varies, stocks vary, paprika varies, vegetables vary heavily in flavor depending on season and origin; and it all conspires to render exactitude futile. Season as you go. When it’s right, you’ll know.
LEMON SALT: A somewhat less unnerving name for citric acid in its crystalline form. This stuff is highly concentrated sour; it’s wildly popular in Mediterranean cooking, but for some reason uncommon in the West. Note that, name aside, this is citric acid (C6H8O7), not salt (NaCl) with lemon flavoring. It is not that “sal con limon” you find sometimes, it is not Giada De Laurentiis’ “Sicilian Sea Salt with Fresh Lemon Zest” (yeesh), it is this right here. Buy online or head to a Mediterranean market or health food store.
1) In a 12 quart stockpot (or, you know, whatever), heat up several tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent.
2) Add the beets. Stir mightily. Dig that neat color the beets turn the onions. Cook a couple minutes more.
3) Add the carrots and cook for another minute or two, then add tomato paste. Stir more. Cook another couple minutes, making sure not to let the paste burn.
4) Add enough chicken stock to fill the pot. If you don’t have quite enough, you can top it off with water. Not the end of the world. Don’t add any fucking stock powder or bouillon cubes. Seriously. Don’t. I will know.
5) Add all your seasonings, the chard, and long-cooking vegetables (carrots, celery, etc.) Save quicker-cooking root vegetables (like sweet potatoes) for a bit later. Simmer uncovered until the carrots are nearing doneness. Keep tasting and seasoning as you go. It should be sweet, sour and savory in about equal measures. Sort of like tomato soup but…you know…Jewish?
6) Once carrots are nearly cooked, add the quicker-cooking root vegetables. Continue simmering. Usually, I wind up simmering for a couple hours, give or take, from beginning to end. You want the liquid to reduce a bit to further concentrate the flavors.
7) Once all your vegetables are at their appropriate level of doneness, it’s time to add the kubbeh you worked so hard to make. However many you want:
They float. Cool, huh?
Continue simmering with the kubeh for another twenty minutes. Make sure the seasoning is how you want it.
8) After the twenty minutes of kubbeh-simmerin’, remove the soup from heat and let it cool. Then refrigerate it overnight. The flavors develop and the kubeh get a chance to become completely saturated through-and-through with the broth, making them ridiculously delicious. Texturally, and flavor-wise, they’re more like massive meatballs than dumplings. Once the next day rolls around, reheat the soup and savage it like you want to.
Sure, it’s lurid, but that’s just how you know you’re in for a good time.