Kufta recipe (Azerbaijani meatball soup)

Kufta recipe (Azerbaijani meatball soup)

Azerbaijani Meatball Soup (Kufte)


 Serves 4

You can choose to use any of the dried herbs I’ve listed below, using a combination or all if you have. If none of the herbs is available, simply omit.

½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water or 1 cup canned, drained and rinsed
Crushed dried mint, for garnish

1 pound (1/2 kg) ground beef or lamb, or a combination (I use 85% lean/15% fat organic ground beef)
1 medium onion, passed though a meat grinder or grated
1 large egg
1/3 cup medium-grain white rice, rinsed
1 tablespoonful crushed dried mint (optional but recommended; read about the herbs in the intro to the recipe)
1 teaspoonful crushed dried summer savory (optional but recommended)
1 teaspoonful crushed dried basil (green basil; optional but recommended)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 dried small sour plums

2 tablespoons clarified butter or regular unsalted butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 medium potatoes, peeled and left whole
¼ teaspoon turmeric
Ground black pepper


If using dried presoaked chickpeas, boil them in a small saucepan filled with water to cover until tender but not soft (it will cook more later), about 1 hour. Drain and set aside. (Would you like to make this dish together? Join our Cooking Masterclasses to learn and taste the national cuisine of Azerbaijan!)

To prepare the meatballs, in a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the dried sour plums. Using your hands, mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well blended. Shape the mixture into 4 big balls, each the size of an apple (You can also make smaller meatballs to feed more people. Make 8 smaller meatballs in place of the 4 big.) If the mixture is sticky, wet your hands in a bowl before shaping the meat. Make a hole in each meatball to reach its center and place one dried sour plum inside. Shape back into balls, packing them hard so that they don’t split apart while cooking. Set them aside to rest.

Meanwhile, prepare the broth. In a medium saucepan (it should be big enough to fit all the meatballs without touching each other), heat the butter over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for half a minute. Add 7 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium. Gently drop the meatballs, one by one, into the broth. Cook, uncovered, without stirring (to prevent the meatballs from breaking), until the meatballs are set, about 10 minutes. If froth rises to the top, remove it with a slotted spoon.

Add the potatoes, turmeric, and cooked (not canned) chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes and the meatballs are cooked through, about 40 minutes. If using canned chickpeas, add to the cooked soup at this point.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls, making sure each serving receives a meatball, a potato and some broth with chickpeas. Garnish with crushed dried mint. Serve immediately with bread.

Nush olsun! Bon appetite!