Sour Chickpea Soup with Semolina Dumplings

Nechama Rivlin

3 hours

6-8 servings

Sour chickpea soup with semolina dumplings in a cream colored Dutch oven

Photography: Dan Peretz, Styling: Nurit Kariv

Photography: Dan Peretz, Styling: Nurit Kariv

The Jerusalem soup pot merges influences from the Arab cuisine of the Greater Syria region with others introduced by Jewish communities from various regions, such as North Africa, Iraq, and Kurdistan.

If you prefer a thicker soup, remove the lid during the last hour of cooking and let the liquid reduce slightly. The semolina dumplings can be prepared up to two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the soup for 10 minutes before serving to allow them to absorb the flavors.


  • For the soup:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 4-5 garlic cloves 
  • 1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1-in / 2-cm cubes
  • 1 sweet green pepper clean of seeds and a sting, cut into 1-in / 2-cm cubes
  • 4 celery stalks washed well and cut into ¼-in / ½-cm pieces
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2.2 lb / 1 kg beef shoulder / neck, cut into 1-in / 3-cm cubes
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 4 marrow bones
  • 2 cups / 360 gr dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight
  • 6 ¼ cups / 1 ½ liters water or vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • For the dumplings:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups semolina
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Make the soup: Heat up the oil in a pot over medium heat and add the onions. Saute the onions until they are translucent and softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and saute for another 30 seconds. 
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the celery root and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir and saute for 5 minutes until the celery root starts to soften. Add the green pepper and celery stalks. Stir and saute for another 5 minutes until the peppers soften a bit, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add the thyme, rosemary, and beef and saute for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Saute until the beef is cooked and starts to brown. Move the beef and vegetables to the edge of the pot, making room in the center of the pot. Add the marrow bones into the pot and sear for about 4 minutes per side. 
  4. Add the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon of salt into the pot and stir. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes release their liquid and start to break down. Drain the chickpeas from their soaking water and add them to the pot. Add the water, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes on a gentle simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top of the pot. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender and falls apart. Add the lemon juice and cilantro to the soup and cook for about 10 more minutes uncovered. Remove the pot from the heat. 
  6. About 1 ½ hours before serving, prepare the semolina dumplings: Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat and add the onion. Saute the onion for about 10 minutes until it is golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer the onion (with the frying oil) to a wide bowl and cool for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the dumpling ingredients and mix until a smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky dough is formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, transfer the dumpling dough from the refrigerator and form a small dumpling, the size of a ping pong ball. Gently drop the dumping into the boiling salted water, working in small batches of about 4 dumplings at a time to prevent sticking. Once the dumplings float to the top, cook them for 5 more minutes and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked dumplings onto a clean plate. You can use a large spoon to gently push any dumplings to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Repeat shaping and cooking the dumplings with the remaining dough and cooking the dumplings.
  8. Before serving, place the cooked dumplings into the pot with the soup and heat up the soup for 10 minutes. Serve hot. The soup tastes great fresh and also develops in flavor with a day in the refrigerator. Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Pull the dumplings out of the soup and store them separately so they won’t soak up all the soup.

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