Marak Kubbeh Adom

April  7, 2011
5 Ratings
  • Serves an army. (Makes 30 kubbeh)
Author Notes

If you've read my food52 profile, then you may have noted that the thing that I'd like a chance to eat is "Kubbe, a Jewish-Iraqi dumpling soup." Well, I finally did it!

These beef-filled semolina dumplings are cooked in a borscht-like beet soup and served piping hot (unlike borscht). Even though this is not a dish I grew up with, the moment I first tasted it in the Iraqi-Jewish section of Jerusalem, I identified it as comfort food. - kmartinelli

There are a million recipes for this soup. The sour, tangy soups are given the label hamousta while the so-called sweet stews (really meaning not sour) are called hulou. Within these two categories there are countless variations, which can include okra, eggplant, squash, zucchini, garlic or beets. Marak kubbeh adom, or red kubbeh soup, is a Kurdish specialty that is based on a crimson red broth made from beets and other root vegetables. Syrians also make a similar variation, kibbe, that are fried.

I adapted the kubbeh recipe from an out of print cookbook from 1964 called “The Israeli Cookbook: What’s Cooking in Israel’s Melting Pot” by Molly Lyons Bar-David. I made a number of changes, including the addition of ras al hanout (a lovely North African spice blend that is not at all traditional here but works beautifully) and omitting the pine nuts (which I've found to be more common in Syrian preparations). To see this recipe, and to read an article I wrote about the history of kubbeh, check out:

This is one of those dishes that every Iraqi or Kurdish mother makes and always has in their freezer. And indeed, it freezes well (see my instructions below). I made plenty to have extra on hand, but feel free to halve the recipe. Also, it looks like there are a lot of steps, but I was thrilled at how easy this was to make. Really, it comes together in just about two hours (I was expecting an all day affair). - kmartinelli —kmartinelli

Test Kitchen Notes

I think I could easily become addicted to this. The beet soup itself was really well flavored and nicely balanced. The lemon juice brightened the soup and made the subtleties of the other ingredients shine. As for the dumplings, yum. I loved the textural combination of the meat and semolina when cooked together with the soup. As kmartinelli suggested, I froze some of the dumplings and heated the soup with the frozen dumplings for an additional ten minutes. Perfection! - thehappycook —Victoria Ross

What You'll Need
  • Beet Soup
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 beets, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (about 100 grams) tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Marak Kubbeh Adom
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ras al hanout
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 4 cups coarse wheat semolina
  • 2 cups water
  1. Beet Soup
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the beets and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the paprika and season with salt and pepper, then add the chicken stock (of course it’s best to use homemade here, but just use the best quality you can. I have to admit, I used “chicken soup mix” because that’s what we have here, and it turned out great.). Allow to simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, for at least an hour.
  3. Just before adding the kubbeh, stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Using an immersion blender, pulse to partially blend the soup (or carefully transfer about 1/3 to a blender). This step is optional and will depend on what texture you like your soup.
  1. Marak Kubbeh Adom
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the ras al hanout and toast, stirring, 1 minute. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until meat is cooked through. Remove from the heat and season with black pepper. If there is a lot of grease and fat in the pan then drain. Allow to cool, stir in cilantro, and set aside.
  3. Put the semolina and water in a large bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes until the water is fully absorbed. It should be soft, but not liquidy or sticky. Try to avoid adding additional water or semolina as it could become very sticky; if this happens discard and start over. Just trust me.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • DaniMama
  • MeghanVK
  • nogaga
  • Rivka
  • MyCommunalTable
A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.

23 Reviews

Orly3939 March 16, 2023
My mom use to make this dish growing up and when I go to israel it does not taste like this recipe! I tried semolina for the first time and it definitely did not taste right!
happycao March 4, 2013
Have some of the instructions gone missing?
Katherine614 March 4, 2013
Yes! Thanks so much for noticing - weird! You can find the full recipe here:
DaniMama March 22, 2012
My Mother-in Law is Iraqi Jewish...her cookbook, Mama Nazima's Jewish Iraqi Cuisine, contains this recipe and a whole lot more--I cook from it all the time! So glad to see this on Food 52!!!!!!
MeghanVK April 18, 2011
What a gorgeous photo! I'm going to have to try this - my husband is Polish and turned me onto borscht with dumplings a while ago, so I would love to see how that same idea of beet soup & dumplings translates to Israeli cuisine.
nogaga April 15, 2011
I have some nice-looking hamousta recipies in shuk and in bukharan cooking books...:)
Rivka April 14, 2011
Love that you posted a recipe for marak kubbeh adom. When I lived in Jerusalem, I visited a little restaurant beyond the shuk called Morduch about once a week. They had great marak kubbeh adom, and a fantastic rendition of hamousta. I favor hamousta, and have made it a couple times, but after seeing this very approachable recipe, I'll need to try my hand at it as well!
kmartinelli April 15, 2011
I love Mordoch! Ima Kubbeh Bar, also in the shuck, is another favorite. Next I'll have to try my hand At making the hamousta variety. If you have a good recipe let me know!
kmartinelli April 15, 2011
I meant shuk :-p
MyCommunalTable April 14, 2011
Great recipe! I have saved it!
kmartinelli April 15, 2011
Thanks MyCommunalTable! :-)
kmartinelli April 14, 2011
Thanks so much to thehappycook for your amazing feedback and ep! I am so glad it turned out well :-)
kmartinelli April 14, 2011
Hi everyone - it has been brought to my attention that I list garlic in the kubbeh ingredients but then don't say what to do with it! Oops. Saute with the garlic before adding the beef.
Burnt O. April 13, 2011
What a gorgeous dish! I'd never heard of it, but I certainly look forward to making it. Thanks for the background and straightforward instructions.
kmartinelli April 13, 2011
Thank you Burnt Offerings!!
gingerroot April 10, 2011
This looks and sounds amazing. So glad you finally made it! Thanks for the recipe and terrific instructions.
kmartinelli April 10, 2011
Thanks gingerroot! I'm glad the bright red color didn't scare you away :-p
nogaga April 9, 2011
You're on a roll! This looks magnificent :)
kmartinelli April 9, 2011
Thanks nogaga! I was so excited when I compared the photo of my kubbeh next to one I'd take at Ima Kubbeh Bar in Mahane Yehuda and found them to be nearly identical! Can't wait until we finally meet up in Jerusalem. Still no sign of rhubarb round here...
friendlyoaks April 8, 2011
Thank you for reminding me of how much I love kubbeh. I was never able to decide whether I preferred the green soup or the red soup. Other than the kubbeh, they had no resemblance to each other, but both were amazing. Now that you have perfected the red version, it may be time to get to work on the green version just as a special favor to me. What a perfect entry for the dumpling contest.
kmartinelli April 9, 2011
Thanks, friendlyoaks! I had never even heard of kubbeh before moving to Israel, but now I'm obsessed. There are so many varieties of kubbeh, and all so good! I was always under the impression that making it was a full day affair so was just thrilled to discover it wasn't as involved as I thought. I'll get to work on a green version, stat! :-)
hardlikearmour April 7, 2011
Way to go! So glad you finally did it. The color is incredible, and it sounds really yummy.
kmartinelli April 7, 2011
Thanks, as always, for the encouragement hardlikearmour!! It came out really great.