Spicy Freekeh Soup with Meatballs

I made this soup a few weeks ago and was amazed, as I often am with any recipe from the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I happened to have a little freekeh but also used some farro that I chopped slightly in a Cuisinart to make the grain similar in size to the freekeh. This was fantastic with the Dolcetto!



  • 14 ounces ground beef, lamb or a combination
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8-inch cubes
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 3/8-inch cubes
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon baharat spice mix (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 cup cracked freekeh
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 ¼ cups hot water
  • ⅓ ounce cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges


Start with the meatballs. In a large bowl, mix together the meat, onion, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using your hands, mix well, then form the mixture into Ping-Pong-size balls and roll them in flour; you will get about 15. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and fry the meatballs over medium heat for a few minutes, until golden brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs and set aside.

Wipe out the pan with paper towels and add the olive oil for the soup. Over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the freekeh and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the freekeh is plump and tender. The soup should be quite thick, reduce or add a little water as needed. Finally, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Ladle the hot soup into servings bowls and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve the lemon wedges on the side.


I made this spice blend with my coffee grinder. Run some white rice in the grinder a couple of times to clean before and after making this wonderful seasoning, Baharat.

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • ½ a whole nutmeg, grated

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