Keshek soup

Keshek is a very traditional food made every year by Lebanese villagers with bulgur and milk (either cow’s or goat’s) at the end of summer as part of  winter’s provisions.

Coarse bulgur is rubbed  with milk and left to ferment a few days; it is then placed on the  rooftop (traditional homes are built with a flat rooftop) and left to dry under the sun for several days; then  taken to the village mill and ground fine into a powder; the powdered keshk is once again dried in the sun for several day in order to dry thoroughly.

Keshek is now ready to be stored  in the pantry for a year and is used in dozens of dishes throughout the year.

Keshek is found at all Middle-Eastern grocers in the US and Canada as well as online.

This soup is made with cabbage, keshek and kibbeh balls; kibbeh balls can be substituted with frozen meatballs or cubes of beef or lamb stewing meat.

INGREDIENTS: 4 servings

  • 2 cups of shredded cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups of keshek
  • 6 cloves of garlic with a teaspoon of salt
  • 8 hollow kibbeh balls or 2 cups of meatballs or 1 pound of stew meat
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 4 cups of water (more if needed)


  1. Shred the cabbage into ribbons (they don’t need to be fine); peel the cloves of garlic. If using meat stew, brown the meat, add 4  cups of water and let it simmer for a while until cooked.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pot and add the shredded cabbage and garlic cloves. Stir-fry for 15 minutes until the cabbage is wilted. Add the meat and meat broth and the keshek and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm.

NOTE: If using kibbeh balls, they need to be hollow. Add 4 cups of water and the keshek  over the cabbage and garlic and simmer, stirring from time to time; drop the kibbeh into the soup and simmer for 10 minutes. If the kibbeh balls are freshly made, roast in the oven with some oil until the kibbeh balls are browned. Then poke with a toothpick and dunk in the soup.

If using frozen meatballs, roast them in the oven first until browned, then add to the soup  10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: The soup needs to have the consistency of loose yogurt, not too thick but not too thin either. Add more or less water or let it thicken by simmering it for a longer time.

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  1. Posted December 22, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    What an interesting soup! I wish I could taste it right now…



  2. Posted December 22, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    As the first official day of winter, this would be perfect!

  3. Posted December 22, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    So interesting! A “convenience food” for winter done completely naturally.
    Best wishes for the holidays!

  4. Alice K
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    You made keshek soup??? Why did I have to be sick for this :( Is there any left for me to try tomorrow?

  5. Posted December 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Une parfaite soupe !!j’adore !! bonne soirée.

  6. Posted December 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


    This is a very interesting soup. I never heard about this type of flour before. I can make it with vegetarian kibbeh! Already placed on the list for my next trip to the middle east shop in the Mission District here in SF.
    Thanks for another year of sharing your decious recipes with us.
    Happy holidays from Us!
    Heguiberto and Steven

  7. Posted December 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Keshek sounds much like trahana…often made for breakfast and ladies gather to produce it autumn. This is soul food!

  8. Posted December 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, I just made your Pumpkin Kibbeh to serve Christmas Eve. It is such a wonderful dish. I am going to post it on my blog with a link to you. Thanks so much for sharing some of the dishes I remember, but have no recipe for. This Keshek is one of those dishes. My grandmother always made it…then my mom but, I have not attempted it yet. Now that you have posted a recipe maybe I’ll give it a try! Have a blessed joyful Christmas! Thanks for your wonderful informative blog!!

  9. Posted December 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    This looks like a such a yummy soup . Would love to try it.

  10. Posted December 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I learn about so many new ingredients from your blog! And now keshek… very intriguing.

  11. Posted December 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I know this dish only by name, thanks mainly to arabic drama! looks very appetizing! and I LOOOOOOOOVE your copper utencils with arabic wiriting.waw!

  12. Posted December 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Nothing beats a great bowl of soup on a cold day and this is one gorgeous bowl of soup!

  13. Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    C’est intéressant et surtout original pour nous ici ! merci de nous faire découvrir une autre cuisine
    et belles fêtes de fin d’année !

  14. Posted December 23, 2011 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    What a fascinating process to prepare the Keshek…sounds like a wonderful soup full of love!
    Happy Holiday Joumana, wishing you a wonderful one

  15. Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    I love this soup. I’ll try to make the keskek flour next summer, but I know ıt’s difficult to dry it in humit climate. Dear Joumana, We have a dish, It has same name but cooking diffirently. We make it with wheat and meat(sometimes dried meat). We boil them and mix them perfectly till get pure mixture and serve with roasted butter on top.
    Merry Christmas

  16. Posted December 23, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Great soup, it’s filling enough to be a main dish!

  17. Posted December 23, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    A hearty and delicious soup. I will have to look out for keshek to try.

  18. Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    salut joumana je te souhaite un joyeux Noël pour toi et ta famille !!Pierre

  19. Posted December 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, you’ve introduced me to a whole new world of food in 2011 and I look forward to learning more from you! Your Keshek soup looks rich and inviting and, with the cabbage, is not only satisfying but very nutritious. Have a wonderful holiday season!

  20. Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a very filling soup! Ideal for this time of the year!

  21. Posted December 24, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    First time I am seeing this dish….looks interesting and very warming for wet and cold days:)

  22. Posted December 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Une bonne soupe traditionnelle qui réchauffera par ces grands froids, sauf ici à Nice. En effet il est 2h 51 est les fenêtres sont grandes ouvertes…comme on dit ici Noël au balcon…Pâques aux tisons…bon Noël

  23. miriam
    Posted December 26, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    i ve never seen this dish with cabbage?

  24. Posted December 26, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I love that you share the unusual recipes (for those outside Lebanon) as well as the more common ones. I read about keshek but it isn’t sold ready made here and I never tried fermenting it myself. Looks like a perfect soup for winter.

  25. Posted January 2, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    How interesting to read about these ancient cooking and preserving techniques. Thank you for always giving us these details about Lebanese cooking, I love them.

  26. s
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    i want to make *everything* from your blog. x s

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