In this recipe from food writer and TV presenter Hila Alpert, juicy chicken meatballs spiced with ginger are simmered in a black bean soup with spinach and miso. It’s a surprisingly wonderful flavor combination that Alpert calls “Casablanca meets Thailand,” or “Mom and dad do Thailand.”
But, first and foremost, she says, it’s for her late brother Mikey, who passed away in 2018. Not long before, she was working on a column about dishes made with beans and meat and invited her brother to taste this recipe. He fell in love with it immediately.
Alpert served this soup at Cafe Asif as part of the House Pot project, where each Tuesday a chef or home cook prepares a dish from home for lunch at Cafe Asif.
For the soup:
1½ cups of dry black beans, soaked overnight
2½ liters (10 ½ cups) of water
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery root, peeled and diced
2 fresh hot peppers, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 liter (4 ¼ cups) chicken or vegetable stock
3 fresh or dried thyme sprigs
2 heaping tablespoons of white miso
4 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch of flat-leaf spinach, thinly sliced
For the chicken meatballs:
2 tablespoons semolina
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
500 grams (1.1 lb) boneless chicken thighs, minced
3-4 centimeter (1 ½ inch) ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 egg yolk
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro or mint leaves, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the beans: In a large pot, combine the beans with the water. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cook for 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
- Prepare the soup base: In a large pot over medium-high heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the chopped onions for about 5 minutes. Add the celery root and hot peppers, and saute for 7 more minutes.
- Drain the beans and add them to the pot with the onion and celery root; add the stock, thyme, miso, pomegranate concentrate, and lemon juice. Allow to gently simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Add the spinach and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs: In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients well. Shape the mixture into balls the size of a large cherry, and gradually add them to the simmering soup. Cook for about 20 minutes, and remove from the heat.
- Serve each guest a bowl of soup with several chicken meatballs, some chopped cilantro or mint leaves on top and a drizzle of olive oil, with a bowl of rice on the side.