Shorba Hamra bi Lahmi (Red Soup with Meatballs)

Shorba Hamra bi Lahmi

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 20 min

My dad loves this soup, as do I. There’s something very beautiful about a simple tomato-based soup. I am shocked I do not have an image of this dish. I make it frequently enough that I should have one handy, but as the weather is fine for this particular culinary delight, I will share now and return with an image the next time I prepare it.

I learned this recipe from my Aunt Ghada. She used a wheat-based vermicelli noodle called Stars of Vermicelli. The noodle cooks quickly and adds a texture that is absolutely missed with substitutions of differently-sized noodles. Fortunately, gluten-free vermicelli noodles are available. Adding pre-cooked rice and brown lentils does work in a pinch. Throw in some spinach and you will have converted this traditional Lebanese soup to more of a Mediterranean wedding soup. Ultimately, this is a simple base recipe. I hope you find ways to make it your own.

1 lb minced or finely ground beef
2 T tomato paste
2 T parsley
1 T olive oil
1/4 clove smashed garlic
1/2 cup Vermicelli noodles
1 t black pepper
1 t salt
6 cups water


Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.

Combine salt, pepper and minced beef by squeezing it together with your clean hands. Mix well. Roll into small meatballs, about the size of a nickel around. Fry the meatballs in the oil until brown.

Add the noodles to the meatballs in the pan and also fry lightly.

Spoon in the tomato paste and fry it as well for about 1 minute. To this, add the water, noodles and garlic and stir until tomato paste is dissolved. Turn up heat, bring to a boil and simmer until noodles are mostly cooked. Consult your noodle instructions, but this will take about three minutes.

At this point, taste the soup, add salt and more tomato paste if desired. The broth should be slightly thickened. Just before the noodles are fully cooked, sprinkle in the parsley, allow to boil for a few seconds, then turn off the heat and serve.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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