Lentil Vegetable Stew with Lamb Meatballs

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Lentil Vegetable Stew with Lamb Meatballs

My sister Susan wrote to both Kay and me (the third sister) and told us she highly, highly recommended this lentil soup she had tried from the New York Times, adapted by Joan Nathan. Originally this was eaten to break the Ramadan fast.  Susan said it made a ton and was hearty and delish.  She suggested additional carrots since the soup is brown and the color makes it much more appealing. 

So, I picked up supplies I did not already have in my fridge and pantry, then rolled up my sleeves and put everything on the counter.  Surprisingly the soup was very quick to make, start to finish.  We had it for dinner, we had it for lunch the next day, my husband ate it for breakfast (!) and I still had enough to give a large container to Jakey Boy’s family.  Add some crusty bread and a simple salad and you will be in heaven.  This year I made a double batch to eat before the Yom Kippur fast” gallons of soup but I was feeding my grandkids who play football, baseball, and basketball.  They eat like there is no tomorrow!

I changed the original recipe, adding more lamb for the teenagers and more veggies for me.  And I eliminated sauteeing of onions for the stock, putting extra onion instead into the meat mixture. I needed to use up some of my legumes, so I ended up using mostly brown lentils and supplementing them with yellow split peas.  I didn’t have allspice (not my fave) so I added cinnamon to the lamb.  And per Susan’s recommendation, I added more carrots and a diced parsnip as well. If you have a little zucchini, that would be fine to put into the soup along with the carrots.

Lentil Vegetable Stew with Lamb Meatballs

Serves 12 



  • 1 large onion minced : I chopped both the onion with the parsley in the food processor since I had it out already.
  • 1 1/2 lb ground lamb 
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley (I grow parsley in the front yard) -chop by hand or in the processor)
  • 1 cup soft breadcrumbs (I always make breadcrumbs with leftover bread and have it frozen) 
  • 1 tsp sea salt: this is more than enough.
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper 
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 10 cups chicken broth -homemade, better than Bouillion or boxed chicken broth.
  • 1-pound brown lentils, picked over to remove stones and rinsed (or substitute up to half with yellow split peas) 
  • 2 oz angel hair pasta, broken into 2-inch segments 
  • 3carrots, peeled and cut 1/3 inch 
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut the same size as the carrot 
  • Juice of ½ lemon plus wedges of lemon to serve the soup 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the minced onion, the ground lamb, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl and blend with your hands.  Form into balls the size of walnuts and space onto the baking pan. I like larger meatballs so mine were more like small golf balls.

Roast for 10 minutes and remove from the pan onto a paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. 

Heat the soup pot and then heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté until golden, then add the broth and bring to a boil.   Add the rinsed lentils and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender.  

Break up angel hair pasta and add to the pot along with the diced peeled carrots and parsnip.  Add the drained lamb meatballs.   Simmer slowly for another 5-10 minutes or until lentils and noodles are cooked.  Add more chicken stock or water as needed.  I love thick soups, so I leave mine that way but if you are wanting more of a soup, add more liquid.  Just before serving, add lemon juice, taste to see if you need more salt or pepper and serve with lemon wedges. 

I am sure ground beef would work here too but I love the surprise taste of lamb.  Also, I think if you reduce the amount of lentils a tad, adding some fresh spinach at the end and just letting it wilt would be nice.  I like a thick stew and adding more vegetables helped accomplish that for me.

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