Shurabet el Eid (Holiday Soup) Recipe

Turn simple chicken broth into a full meal with the addition of white rice and easy meatballs.

Shurabet el eid in a white bowl

Jillian Atkinson

Why It Works

  • White rice transforms a simple broth into a more filling meal.
  • The simple flavor of plain rice allows the spices in the broth and meatballs to stand out.
  • Fresh parsley serves as more than garnish, adding brightness to the dish.

The name of this soup in Arabic translates to “Holiday Soup,” since it’s most often made around Christmas or Easter. Thanks to its nutritional value, it’s also made for women who have just given birth or for those suffering from a cold—think of it as the Arab version of chicken noodle soup. The traditional holiday recipe often features kubbeh, which are dumplings made of bulgur and ground meat, stuffed with a filling of ground meat sautéed with onions and spices, and pine nuts. For everyday eating, however, baked meatballs are the only star. Unlike the traditional large, fluffy meatballs one might think of when hearing the word, these are minuscule—no larger than a marble—and chewy, with the only add-ins being a few spices for flavor. They add a pleasant contrasting texture to the otherwise soft and smooth elements in the soup.  

Freshly cooked or leftover rice typically joins the pot. The type you use is relatively open to personal preference—any short or medium grain variety like Calrose, paella, sushi, or jasmine would be a great choice. Since basmati, a long grain rice, doesn’t absorb flavor and has a soft texture, though it’s best avoided here.

The ingredients in this recipe are incredibly simple, so the flavor of the dish really rests on the quality of the broth. There are no restrictions on the type (anything from chicken, beef, lamb, or a combination will work), but homemade is always preferred (if using store-bought broth, I like to doctor it by briefly simmering it with additional aromatics). 

I personally like to make the dish with chicken broth because I find it the most delicate, which complements the simplicity of the remaining ingredients well. Most often, I make my broth with the leftover carcass of a roast chicken, using onion, bay leaf, garlic, and carrot as aromatics, and whole peppercorns, allspice, coriander, and cinnamon for spice. Sometimes I’ll add some whole cloves or cardamom as well. If making the broth from raw chicken pieces, I recommend parboiling them for a few minutes before transferring to a clean pot and adding fresh water and aromatics—this will yield a clearer broth, both in visual appearance and in terms of flavor.  

Recipe Facts

Total: 40 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • For the Meatballs:
  • 1/2 pound (225g) finely minced ground meat (beef, lamb, or a combination)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • For the Soup:
  • 1 1/2 quarts (1.5L) homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock (see note)  
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 loosely packed cup (about 6 ounces; 170g) cooked plain medium- or short-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems

Directions

  1. For the Meatballs: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, combine ground meat with olive oil, salt, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Using a clean hand, knead until very well combined and meatball mixture feels slightly sticky, about 2 minutes.

    collage: mixing ground meat and spices into a homogenous sticky mixture

    Jillian Atkinson

  2. Using clean, lightly oiled hands, roll meatball mixture into grape-size balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet (you should have about 30 meatballs).

    30 small meatballs on a wire rack on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet

    Jillian Atkinson

  3. Bake meatballs just until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

    30 small meatballs on a baking sheet after being baked

    Jillian Atkinson

  4. For the Soup: In a 3-quart saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil along with cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper, then lower heat to hold a simmer. Taste the broth, then season with salt to your liking. (If using store-bought broth, follow additional instructions in note.)

    broth and spices simmering in a pot

    Jillian Atkinson

  5. Add the rice and the meatballs to broth and simmer just until the rice has softened slightly and the flavours have a chance to meld, 5 to 10 minutes.

    meatballs and rice added to stock

    Jillian Atkinson

  6. To serve, place several meatballs in each bowl, then ladle the rice and broth on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

    two bowls of Shurabet el Eid on a dark purple background

    Jillian Atkinson

Notes

If you are using store-bought broth, add 1 small onion, 1 clove of garlic, and 1 bay leaf along with the spices and let it simmer for about 10 additional minutes to infuse; discard aromatics, then continue with recipe.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The finished soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat gently before serving.