Photo credit Ana Lorenzana; Image design by Mollie Suss

This Sour Soup Is a Taste of Mexican Jewish Culture

For our family, kibbe hamda is a Friday staple.

At The Nosher, we’ve always been fascinated by the unique and flavorful Mexican Jewish kitchen, celebrating dishes like Oaxacan chocolate stuffed challah and mushroom jalapeño matzah ball soup. So you can imagine how excited we were when we heard about a new digital series from Jewish celebrity chef Eitan Bernath  and Tastemade called “Eitan Explores: Mexico City.”

In the seven episodes available on Instagram, each only a few minutes long, Eitan introduces us to the culinary delights, traditions, history and personalities of the Jewish kitchens of Mexico City.

One such personality is chef Estrella Jafif, who guides Bernath around a local outdoor market in Episode 1. After sampling local delicacies like mamey, an orange-fleshed fruit with a creamy interior, and Oaxacan cheese, the pair shop for ingredients for a hamout (sour) Lebanese soup.

In Episode 2, Jafif teaches Bernath to make her sour soup with kibbe (small meatballs made with rice and meat) — but not before they have a shot of tequila. L’chaim!

While they’re cooking on a Friday, this is not the Shabbat dinner many viewers will be familiar with. Jafif’s family celebrate with a pre-Shabbat leisurely lunch known as “sobremesa,” at the end of which they light the Shabbat candles. Carrying their soup across the street, Eitan and Jafif join her family for a delicious, diverse potluck, with dishes from the Lebanese, Cuban, Syrian and Mexican kitchens.

Below, Chef Estrella Jafif shares her recipe:

“Each Lebanese household has their version and variation of this type of soup. It is known as hamout (sour) because it is very lemony. Growing up, I tried the agrio at friends and family members homes, but this is undoubtedly my favorite version because it is very representative of my mother-in-law’s house. 

It is a dish that symbolizes comfort in its entirety and most often, it is cooked on Fridays, which is the day on which the big family meets. Agrio is a dish that withstands reheating very well; in fact, it is a tradition that it is cooked a day before. Grandmothers and mothers do it this way to be able to receive a large number of people.

It is usually accompanied by rice with vermicelli noodles, which we call arroz con fideo.”

Note: If you make the soup a day in advance (Steps 1-2), once you reheat it, the flavors will be deeper.

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agrio soup sour Lebanese soup recipe
Photo credit Ana Lorenzana

Kibbe Hamda (Sour Lebanese Soup with Meatballs)

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4 from 1 review

This sour soup is a family favorite.

  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6


  • 3 potatoes, cut into medium cubes
  • 4 celery branches, chopped into half moons
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 810 small limes, juiced
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dried mint
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable consomme powder
  • 15 pieces of small rice kibbe (known as kibbe hamda)
  • salt


  1. In a large pot, sauté the potato, celery and carrot. While it’s cooking, in a big bowl, mix the lime juice, garlic, herbs and consomme. Add 4-5 cups of water and season with salt to taste. 
  2. Add this mixture to the pot with vegetables and let it simmer for a couple of hours, covered, so it does not reduce. 
  3. Half an hour before serving, add the kibbe and let simmer. 
  4. Serve with white rice with vermicelli noodles (arroz con fideo).


If you make the soup a day in advance (Steps 1-2), once you reheat it, the flavors will be deeper.

  • Author: Chef Estrella Jafif
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Sephardi


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  • Suzanne

    My friend who is Sephardic is going to help me make this soup. Before I do I would like to know how to make the kibbe so it comes out perfect.

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