Passover Kibbeh Hamdah (Sour Meatball Soup)

Jennifer Abadi

1½ hours

serves 8 to 10 / Makes about 10 cups

Passover Kibbeh Hamdah (Sour Meatball Soup)

Passover Kibbeh Hamdah (Sour Meatball Soup). Photo by Dave Katz.

Passover Kibbeh Hamdah (Sour Meatball Soup)
Passover Kibbeh Hamdah (Sour Meatball Soup). Photo by Dave Katz

This kosher for Passover and gluten-free rendition of kibbeh (also known as kubbeh), is a uniquely Jewish dish, says culinary scholar Claudia Roden in “The Book of Jewish Food.” The more common semolina exterior is swapped for a shell of ground meat and rice for the holiday. The generous portion of lemon juice in this recipe from cookbook author Jennifer Abadi adds a signature tang to the broth. Read more about Jennifer’s family and their journey from Syria to Brooklyn on the Jewish Food Society’s archive.

Check out more kubbeh recipes and explore the centuries-long history of this iconic regional dish here.


  • For the Meat Filling: 
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  •  For the Outer Shell: 
  • 2/3 cup long-grain white rice, finely ground in a coffee or spice grinder or Cream of Rice cereal or rice flour (if you don’t own a grinder) 
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • For the Broth: 
  • 8 to 10 cups beef or lamb stock
  • 2½ cups celery, coarsely chopped  
  • 1¼ cups finely chopped scallions or white onions
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, coarsely chopped  
  • 1 cup white potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • About 1 teaspoon kosher salt (amount depends on how much salt is already in your stock!) 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons dried mint
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large yellow squash or zucchini, stem and end discarded  


  1. Prepare the Filling: Place all the filling ingredients in a bowl and squeeze together with your hands until smooth. Taking 1 level teaspoon of the mixture at a time, roll into balls and place on a tray. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the Outer Shell Mixture: Pour ground rice (or Cream of Rice cereal) into a food processor and pulse with the meat and salt until a smooth “dough” is formed.
  3. Roll 1 level tablespoon of the dough into a ball, and place it onto a separate tray. Continue until mixture is finished.
  4. Form and Stuff the Shells: Press your thumb into the center of one shell ball, and turn dough while pinching it into a thin, hollow cup. Take one of the filling meatballs and stuff it into the cup, then pinch it closed. Lightly dampen your palms with cold water, and roll it back into a smooth ball without cracks or lumps. If you prefer, you can pinch the ends to create a torpedo shape. (If you have extra meatballs, save them to toss into the soup.) 
  5. Prepare the Broth and Serve: Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the celery, scallions (or onions), garlic, and parsley and mix well. Simmer partially covered, for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots, potatoes, salt, and pepper. Grind the dried mint between your palms directly over the pot. Mix and continue to simmer 15 minutes, partially covered.
  7. Add the lemon (or lime) juice and mix. Place the whole squash (or zucchini) into the pot and continue to simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  8. Gently drop each meatball into the soup, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes.
  9. Serve the Soup: Just before serving, remove the squash (or zucchini), slice it into 1-inch rounds, and return it to the soup. Serve hot in a large serving bowl or in individual bowls.

    ©Jennifer Abadi. This recipe is excerpted from “Too Good to Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe.”

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