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Iraqi Pomegranate Soup

(Shorbat Rumman)

It sounds pretty weird--and it's not as "pure pomegranate" as I was hoping--but it does happen to be very, very good. Serve hot as a meal to 6 people, with lots of bread on the side.

Garnish: A mixture of 1 Tablespoon dried mint (crumbled between your palms), 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, then stir in the lamb, split peas, and onion. Skim where necessary, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour.

In the meantime, wash the beet tops and spinach, slice finely and chop, wrap in paper towels, and crisp until needed. Also peel the beets and chop into a small dice. Also prepare the mint/cinnamon/pepper garnish in a separate bowl.

When the lamb broth is ready, add the beets and rice and cook another 30 minutes.

Pick out the lamb--cut away the bones and fat, shred the meat, and return to the pot. Add the scallions, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 2 Tablespoons of lime juice, parsley, and either the pomegranate concentrate or the pomegranate juice. Simmer for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, bring the soup to a boil and stir in the beet greens and spinach. Let wilt, while stirring for a minute or two, then stir in cilantro, more lime juice, as needed, and seasonings. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the mint/cinnamon/pepper topping.