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Shared by Danielle Rehfeld Colen

Chefte (Enriched Broth With Meatballs)

Yield: 8 ServingsTime: 2 h active + 4 h cooking

Chefte (Enriched Broth With Meatballs)

Yield: 8 ServingsTime: 2 h active + 4 h cooking

Family Journey

TbilisiTehranHolon, Israel
New York City

This soup with large meatballs called chefte can be served several ways. “In our home we have the soup first dipping pieces of challah in the hot broth and then serve the chefte with tahdig along with the radishes and cilantro” Danielle says. “We also eat the chefte cold the next morning sliced into rounds.”

This recipe was shared by Danielle Rehfeld Colen. Read more about her family in "Chefte, Chatachtuma, and More From the Nash Didan Jewish Community" and try her recipes for Chatachtuma (Spaghetti With Yogurt and Garlic) and Khinkali (Georgian Dumplings).


For the chefte

  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ½ pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated, liquid reserved
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice, rinsed well and dried on a plate or sheet pan at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tablespoon fine sea salt
  • ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon ground turmeric

For the broth

  • 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight and drained, or 3 cups canned
  • 1 ½ pounds beef bones
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced into 1-inch wedges
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 - 10 cups chicken broth 
Cooking ProjectsMeat Gluten Free


  • Step 1

    In a large bowl, mix the ground beef and chicken together well with your hands. Add the onion and reserved juice and mix to combine.

  • Step 2

    In a food processor, grind the rice until it resembles coarse sand. Add 2 cups of the ground rice to the meat mixture, along with eggs, salt, pepper, and turmeric, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate while the broth cooks (or up to overnight).

  • Step 3

    Place the soaked chickpeas on a large towel and cover. Using a rolling pin, roll over the chickpeas to remove the skins (they may split, it’s ok). Set the chickpeas aside. If you’re using canned chickpeas, skip this step and add your chickpeas in step #6. 

  • Step 4

    Place the beef bones in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and when the bones release their impurities after boiling for 10 minutes, remove from the heat and drain the bones. 

  • Step 5

    Return the bones into the rinsed pot and cover with 6 cups of chicken broth. Add the chickpeas, onion, and turmeric.  Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook for 3 hours, skimming frequently. Add more chicken broth as needed, making sure the ingredients are fully submerged. 

  • Step 6

    After the broth is cooked, form the meatballs: Divide the meat mixture into 8 portions, and roll into large baseball-size balls. Gently drop into the soup. If you are using canned chickpeas, peel and add them into the pot here.Bring to a simmer and cook for another 60-90 minutes until they are fully cooked through. 

  • Step 7

    To serve, place a few cheftes, beef bones and pieces of onions  into an individual bowl and top with a ladle full of broth. Serve hot.