- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 small onion (about 1/2 cup), chopped very fine
- 1 medium-sized carrot (about 1/4 cup), chopped very fine
- 1/2 celery stick (about 1/4 cup), chopped very fine
- 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
- 1/2 cup mint, chopped fine, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- 9 ounces fresh peas (about 2 cups)
- 1/3 cup whole yogurt
- Allow the lamb to come to room temperature for easier blending.
- In a small skillet over very low heat, sauté the onion, carrot, and celery in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft.
- Add this mixture to the breadcrumbs along with the cumin, thyme, 1/4 cup mint, pepper, and a dash of salt.
- Beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl, add the lamb and the breadcrumb mixture, and work all the ingredients together. A wooden spoon works well for this, but your hands will do the quickest, most thorough job.
- Form the mixture into meatballs about an inch wide by rolling them in your hands and giving them a light tap to flatten them slightly.
- In a medium-sized skillet, preferably cast-iron, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until fragrant.
- Add the minted meatballs and brown them on two sides.
- Remove from heat, leaving the meatballs in the skillet to stay warm.
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan along with the turmeric, and then turn down to a simmer and add the peas.
- Cook the peas until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on their size.
- Whisk the yogurt to make it smooth and stir it into the broth.
- Return the pan to the heat for 1 to 2 minutes but do not boil, lest the yogurt curdle.
- Distribute the minted meatballs on top and salt to taste.
- Sprinkle the remaining mint over all and serve immediately.
Looking for more information on cooking with mint, plus ways to use fresh spring peas in your kitchen? Try Peas and Mint: A Perfect Pair in Your Kitchen and Garden for simple spring pea recipes and mint recipes.
Barbara Damrosch is always seeking new ways of cooking with mint and fresh spring peas at Four Season Farm in Maine. She’s the co-author of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.
Lamb and mint are a classic combination. In the United States, as in the British Isles, the dish we immediately think of is roasted lamb or chops with a sweet mint sauce. But Greece, the Latin countries, and the Middle East all have versions of a hearty soup with minted meatballs. My recipe features little meatballs swimming in chicken broth. Added to the broth, green peas will sink below the surface and then generously fill your spoon.
Turmeric gives the soup a golden color and the mint brings a refreshing zing. Almost a stew, this satisfying lamb meatball soup can stand alone as a meal along with a loaf of crusty bread.