Snowy with a Chance of Meatballs

We do not host parties very often. Partially because with two children, it’s not very easy to clean, prepare, clean, cook, clean, host, and then maybe clean and partially because the only folks we usually invite are the ones who come over every weekend anyway (i.e. LB and KG). Only on rare occasions do we actually make formal plans with a formal menu and formal invitations. This weekend, we decided to introduce a new Algerian friend of ours to some of our other friends and family. I shopped, chopped, and dropped. Alas, we scoffed the news reporters’ dire warnings of inclement weather and come Saturday morning, we were left with several cancellations and about five inches of snow. Lucky for us, we had not cooked everything and with a slight modification in the guest list and some rescheduling, we hope to be able to host the luncheon today instead. On the menu:

Iraqi lentil soup with meatballs, desi chicken served over basmati rice, spicy channa, stuffed grape leaves, labne, tabouleh, olive bread, spinach pies, and rugelach for dessert

Recipe, you ask? Hyah:

Iraqi Lentil Soup With Meatballs

2 medium onions, minced
1 pound ground beef or lamb or both
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt plus salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice, freshly ground from about 5 whole allspice
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
10 cups chicken broth
1 pound brown or yellow lentils
3 rounds angel hair pasta (about 2 ounces)
2 carrots, diced fine
Juice of one half lemon.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place half the onions and the ground meat, parsley, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and allspice in a medium mixing bowl. Blend ingredients, and form into balls the size of walnuts. Turn onto the baking pan.

2. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and drain on a paper towel. In a soup pot, sauté remaining onions in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add chicken broth and bring to boil.

3. Pick any stones from over lentils, place in bowl, cover with cold water, and drain. Add them to soup, turn heat to low, and simmer slowly for about 20 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.

4. Crumble angel hair pasta into soup, along with carrots and meatballs. Simmer slowly for another 5-10 minutes or until lentils and noodles are cooked, adding more chicken broth or water as needed. Just before serving, squeeze lemon into soup.

Yield: 6 to 8.

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