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Taita’s shorbet ayaneen (Rice and meatball soup)

Rice and meatball soup is perfect when you need something warm and comforting and the rice is great when you have a tummy ache! 

December 19, 2020 at 9:02 am

So many of us think of chicken noodle soup as the best medicine for a cold and while I grew up with chicken noodle soup, I also grew up with what my grandma called “shorbet ayaneen” which translates to “the soup of the sick”! It is perfect when you need something warm and comforting and the rice is great when you have a tummy ache!

I absolutely adore this soup, whether I am sick or not, and my kids grew up eating it because it is the perfect baby soup. You can make it as thick or loose as you like, and I would make it slightly thicker for the little ones so they don’t soak themselves! I often make it without the meatballs and either add shredded chicken or just have it as it is!

Garlic and lemon are two ingredients that are in almost every Levantine dish and with good reason. They are not only delicious, but good for you and keep your immune system healthy and strong. The rice makes this soup a meal on its own and super filling, so you don’t really need to have anything with it.

When making this soup, make sure your meatballs aren’t too big so that they cook through. If I am making it with shredded chicken, I use the broth from the chicken. Many people like to add stock cubes to this soup, but I don’t think it’s needs, because the juices from the meatballs will flavour the soup nicely. In terms of thickness, make this soup a little looser than you would like because it will continue to thicken as it cools. This refrigerates and freezes great, but you’ll need to add a bit of water to get the right thickness. Don’t forget to adjust the seasoning and you might need a bit more lemon juice, as the water may dilute the flavour.

Whether you are sick or not, I am sure you’ll be comforted by this hearty soup!



200 g minced meat (lamb or beef)

½ medium onion, finely chopped

¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

2 tsp mixed spice



Olive oil, to fry


1 tbsp olive oil

½ medium onion, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, mashed into a paste

1 cup Egyptian (or short grain) rice

2 tbsp mixed spice



4 cups water (you may need more later)

1-2 tbsp lemon juice, to taste

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped


  1. Begin by mixing the meatball ingredients, except the oil, well in a bowl and forming small balls, about the size of a radish.
  2. In a pan, heat the olive oil and place the meatballs in the oil. Make sure to brown all side, but don’t worry about them being fully cooked, as they will continue to cook in the soup.
  3. Place on a plate and set aside.
  4. In a pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes. Then add the rice and spices and mix, making sure the rice is coated in the oil.
  5. Add the water and let come to the boil. Taste to check seasoning and cover to cook. Once the rice is half-way cooked, add the meatballs and lemon juice and cover. Leave on the stove until the rice is fully cooked. Depending on your rice, you may need to add more water. Make sure to adjust the seasoning after adding the water.
  6. Mix in the parsley and plate with an extra squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Add some dessert to your meal with Basbousa!