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Jute mallow soup

Jute mallow soup
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

The ubiquity of molokhia — an irresistible dish of braised greens served over rice that hails from Egypt and has taken root in the cuisines of Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Israel and across North Africa — would seem to indicate that ... Read more

Total time: About 2 hours, plus cooling time | Serves 6 to 8

Nine-spice mix (optional)

  • 6 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 6 cassia bark or cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 blades mace
  • ½ nutmeg, crushed

Step 1In a large skillet, combine all of the ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring until the spices become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Be careful to watch that the spices do not burn. Remove the pan from heat and cool the spices completely, about 1 hour. Place the spices in a heavy duty spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. This makes more spice mix than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; store the spice mix in an airtight container in a cool place for up to several months.

Vermicelli rice (optional as garnish)

  • 2 cups jasmine or short grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • 3 ½ ounces vermicelli noodles, broken into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1Rinse the rice under running water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 15 to 30 minutes to soften, then drain and set aside.

Step 2Melt the oil and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, then add the vermicelli noodles and stir constantly until the noodles are golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Add the drained rice and toss to fully coat in the fat.

Step 3Add 2 ½ cups water to the pan, then add the salt and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, give the rice one more stir, then remove from heat. Place a dish towel over the pan, close the lid tightly and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to steam the rice. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and hold in a warm place until ready to serve.

Jute mallow soup

  • 1 whole chicken, 4 to 5 pounds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon prepared nine-spice mix (or substitute store-bought Lebanese 7-spice or Baharat spice mix)
  • About 2 cups (11 ounces) finely crushed dried or 1 1/2 (14-ounce) bags minced frozen mlukhiyeh (jute mallow) leaves, more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  • Diced fresh green chiles (such as Anaheim), to serve, optional
  • Prepared Vermicelli rice, or bread for dipping, optional

Step 1In a large stockpot, cover the chicken with water. Bring to a boil, skimming away the scum that rises to the surface, then add the bay leaves, onion, 1 tablespoon salt and the nine-spice mix and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Step 2Cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 1 to 1 ½ hours. When the chicken is ready, remove the chicken from the stock. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred. Set the chicken aside.

Step 3Strain the stock. Pour about 1 ½ quarts (save any additional for another use) into a large pan and heat over medium heat. Gradually add the mlukhiyeh leaves, whisking continuously to avoid any lumps. Continue to whisk until evenly combined. Add the tomato paste and whisk again to combine. Simmer, covered, until darkened in color, aromatic and less viscous,15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and a sprinkling of salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the oil and garlic to the soup, whisking to combine. If the leaves separate from the liquid, or the consistency is too coarse, use an immersion blender to achieve the desired consistency.

Step 5Add the shredded chicken, stirring to combine, and continue to cook for about five minutes to marry the flavors.

Step 6To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls. Serve with lemon wedges and chiles. The soup can be eaten over rice or scooped with bread.

Note: Adapted from recipes in “The Palestinian Table” by Reem Kassis. Mlukhiyeh leaves, Lebanese 7-spice and Baharat spice mix can be found at most Middle Eastern markets.


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