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Armenian soup with butter-filled meatballs (basselah)

Armenian Soup With Butter-Filled Meatballs (Basselah)

What could be better than biting into a meatball filled with melted butter?
Prep Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Armenian
Servings 8


  • Kufta: Next 8 ingredients
  • 1 ½ lb. extra lean ground beef or lamb
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • dash of red pepper
  • 1 cup fine bulgur wheat #1 coarseness
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • 1-1 ½ cups ice water
  • 1 cube butter cut into ¼ inch cubes, chilled
  • Butter seasonings: sprinkle with black pepper all-spice and a bit of ground cloves
  • Broth: Next 10 ingredients
  • 2 ½ cartons 32 oz. chicken broth
  • ½ 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dry mint
  • 1-1 ½ T butter
  • salt to taste


  • For the kufta balls (meatballs): Place raw meat into a food processor and grind until very fine.
  • Remove meat from processor and then mince onions. Combine the meat, minced onions and a little ice water. Then add bulgur wheat. combine all ingredients and then slowly add enough ice water until the meat mixture is the right consistency to form meatballs (must hold its shape).
  • Cut a stick of chilled butter into thirds lengthwise and then cut each third into halves. Then cut strips of butter cross-wise to form ¼ inch cubes. Sprinkle cubes of butter with a little bit of black pepper, all-spice and cloves (very small amount).
  • Take about a tablespoon of meat mixture and roll into a ball. Then place your thumb into the ball and round meat mixture around your thumb to make an opening for the butter. Place a ¼ inch cube of butter into each ball and then close up the meatball and roll again until uniformly round.
  • Make sure it is sealed well, and use ice water to wet your fingers as you make the kufta, to help smooth the shape.
  • For the broth: In a large stock pot, combine chicken broth, crushed or diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced onion, sugar and lemon juice.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add dry mint and sauté just until mint is softened. Then add mixture to broth.
  • Drain liquid from the can of garbanzo beans and rinse them. Set aside.
  • Bring broth to a boil. Then lower to a rapid simmer. Add the garbanzo beans.
  • Next add the kufta balls, a few at a time. When the kufta balls rise to the top, simmer a few minutes more or until cooked through.


remove the kufta balls from the broth if not eating immediately and when storing leftovers in the refrigerator.
Keyword armenian soup
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