Kishk, Lamb & Kale Soup

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This dish celebrates the basic ingredients available to a villager in rural areas of Lebanon as well as in Syria, Palestine and Egypt during the winter months. Kishk is a fine powder made from bulgur that has been fermented with yogurt or water and left to dry in the sun for several days. Kishk can be found in some Middle Eastern grocers and can also be found under the Greek/Cypriot name trachana, which is usually served with grilled/broiled halloumi. Trachana is usually sold in a coarser grain resembling medium bulgur and can be ground in a spice grinder to a fine flour. In Lebanon, awarma (lamb confit) is usually added to the dish, but here I’ve used minced/ground lamb because it’s easier to source.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 50 g/ oz/ tbsp salted butter
  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper flakes or crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground allspice 2 tbsp dried mint
  • 400 g/14 oz minced/ground lamb
  • 150 g/ oz kale or spinach, finely chopped
  • 125 g/ oz/1 cup kishk
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts
  • mint leaves, to sprinkle (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • warm Arabic Bread, to serve

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the garlic and fry for about 1 minute until aromatic. Add the Aleppo pepper flakes, allspice and dried mint and stir well to combine.
  2. Add the lamb and cook for 4–5 minutes until browned, stirring often. Add the kale and mix well, letting it wilt for 1–2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the kishk and stir to combine. Heat through and then pour in 1 l/35 fl oz/4⅓ cups hot water a little at a time, stirring well to combine and remove any lumps. Keep adding water and stirring it in until the kishk is diluted and the mixture is creamy and brothy. Adjust the amount of water based on the desired consistency of the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Toast the pine nuts in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and the mint, if using, over the top. Serve with some warm Arabic Bread.

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