MEZZA BISHURBA (lamb and tomato soup from Saudi Arabia, for ten)


3 lamb shanks, cut in half crosswise by the butcher, trimmed of fat, or 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into ¾ inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves

1 quart chicken or beef broth, or water

12 vine ripened medium sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 bunch fresh mint or cilantro, stems removed, ¼ cup coarsely chopped





1.In a 6 quart pot over high heat, brown the lamb in the olive oil. Drain off the burned fat.

2. Turn down the heat, add the unpeeled garlic cloves and enough broth to cover the meat by 1 inch, and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer the lamb for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Use a ladle to skim off any fat or froth that floats to the top. You may need to add water to the pot from time to time to make up for evaporation.

3. If you’re using lamb shanks, take them out of the cooking liquid, remove the meat and discard the bones. Cut the meat into cubes or strips and add it to the broth.

4. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the mint or cilantro, season with salt and pepper and serve.


NOTE: This can be served either hot or cold as a summer soup. If you want it to be more substantial, add ½ cup rice about 20 minutes before adding the tomatoes. Using lamb shoulder rather than shanks will make it meatier and, if you’re so inclined, you can stir a cup of yogurt into the soup a minute before serving.


from James Peterson, Splendid Soups

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