Mouloukhieh (Jew’s mallow soup)

To call this dish a soup is misleading;  like the Mexican posole it is a grand dish with many components each of which have to be prepared separately.

Mouloukhieh is hugely popular in Lebanon and in Egypt and the exact origin of this dish has not been established yet. Suffice it to say that each region prepares it a bit differently. My Egyptian friend Phoebe who has successfully grown the mouloukhieh plant in her Dallas backyard, never uses any cilantro in hers; omitting cilantro in the Lebanese version would be considered heresy.

This plant is called jew’s mallow in the US and corette in French-speaking countries. It is available frozen in all Middle-Eastern grocers in the US and Canada; it is available fresh in Asian markets in the US, as it is a plant that is consumed in Asian countries.

The method for making mouloukhieh is very simple: Prepare a chicken or beef or lamb broth by boiling the meat with some aromatic spices. Prepare a cilantro pesto using fresh and dried cilantro, garlic and olive oil. Flavor the broth with the cilantro pesto and cook the mouloukhieh leaves in the broth very briefly. Serve the soup with pieces of meat or chicken (or both) over white rice, some toasted pita chips, and ladle some chopped onion and vinegar (or lemon) over the soup when ready to savor it.

For some pointers on how to use the fresh mouloukhieh, click here.

INGREDIENTS: 8 generous servings

  • 3-pound whole chicken
  • 2 lamb or beef shanks (optional)
  • 4  cups of cooked long-grain rice (can use Basmati)
  • 3 pita breads, toasted in a 275F oven till golden and dry and crumbled
  • Aromatics for the broth (chicken and meat): 1 or 2 carrots, 2 bay leaves, black peppercorns, 1 leek or 1 celery stalk, 1 sprig of thyme, 2 cinnamon sticks, a few sprigs of parsley, any other spice you like to add to your broth.
  • 2 packages of frozen mouloukhieh (about 400 g each)
  • 3 large onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup of red vinegar or 1 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • For the cilantro pesto: 2 bunches of fresh cilantro, 12 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup of olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp of dried  cilantro powder (optional)


  1. Place the whole chicken (minus innards) in a pot with cold water to cover and the aromatics; bring to a simmer and let it simmer slowly until cooked, skimming any froth from the surface of the pot. Cool the chicken and debone, reserving large pieces for the mouloukhieh later on. Strain the broth and set aside.
  2. If using meat shanks, follow the same procedure; when cooked, set aside and strain the broth. Mix the chicken and meat broth.
  3. Wash, dry and chop the cilantro leaves. Peel and chop the garlic and mash in a mortar with a teaspoon of salt. Chop the onions. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and fry the onions till soft and golden then add the mashed garlic and the chopped cilantro as well as the dried cilantro. Stir-fry for a few seconds (till the pesto is fragrant),  then transfer to the broth. Heat the broth and drop the frozen mouloukhieh packages in the broth; bring to a boil and let it simmer for 2 minutes until the mouloukhieh leaves are warmed up.
  4. Serve the soup with some cooked white rice, the chicken and meat pieces, a bowl of crumbled toasted pita croutons and a bowl of red vinegar  (or lemon) with a handful of chopped onion.

NOTE: There are  no set rules for how one is supposed to eat the mouloukhieh; growing up, every member of the family had his or her customized way; some people like to fill their bowl with croutons, then rice, then mouloukhieh then chicken and meat, then onion and vinegar. You get to decide!

The tricky part of making this dish is determining the amount of broth versus the amount of mouloukhieh; the soup itself is quite soupy, so if you find your soup thick and muddy add more broth. If on the other hand it looks too watery, add more mouloukhieh.


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  1. Posted December 26, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    This is new to me but it sounds delicious. Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year, with health, joy, happiness and success in whatever you are doing.

  2. Joumana
    Posted December 26, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Ivy, wishing you the same!

  3. Posted December 26, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Great recipe. When I use to live in Egypt, this was a staple.

  4. Posted December 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    This really looks and sounds delicious. This is like a Middle Eastern “penicillin” it can cures what ails you. Beautiful.


  5. Posted December 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Very nice presentation and explanations. I remember this dish from traveling. Happy holidays, Joumana. Xoxo, your NON-vegetarian friend ;-)

  6. Posted December 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Something new to me. Thank you for the brief information.
    Happy Holidays!

  7. Posted December 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I have never heard or seen something like this! Very many different flavors are combined in this dish! I would like to wish to you a very Happy New Year full of love and prosperity!

  8. Posted December 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    très contente de faire cette découverte, merci pour le partage!
    cette version de la mloukhiya est totalement différente de celle qu’on prépare en Algérie et en Tunisie. en effet la mloukhiya est séchée et réduire en fine poudre,sa cuisson demande de longues heures et le résultat final est une sorte de bouillie verdâtre appréciée par les amateurs car sa saveur est unique! on la déguste avec la galette matlou spongieuse et légère.
    chapeau pour la présentation, j’adore tes plats!!
    bonne soirée et très belles fêtes de fin d’année!

  9. Posted December 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    This is one of my favorite dishes!! Your mouloukhieh looks mouthwatering!

  10. Posted December 26, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    oh!! Les recettes laibanaises me plait beaucoup.

  11. Posted December 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m a huge cilantro fan, so this is a dish for me!

  12. Posted December 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    This new to me – never heard of this veggie but the rustic and honest flavors really appeal to me Joumana. Can’t wait for the day i take a seat at your dinner table, friend :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  13. Posted December 27, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Je vais essayer, c’est sûr, pour me faire une idée. En tout cas, sur la photo, c’est vraiment appétissant !
    Je te souhaite une très belle fin d’année.

  14. Posted December 27, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    It does look more like a stew – It looks amazing in the silver tureen. Wishing you all the best for the New Year!

  15. Posted December 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Not only delicious but presented so beautifully! I love having to look up what some of the ingredients are :)

    Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy 2012, Joumana!

  16. Posted December 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    wow! this soup looks incredible! wish I had a bowl of it for tonight!

  17. Posted December 28, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    I have never seen something like this Joumana, it’s new for me ! I wish you a very happy New Year !

  18. Posted December 28, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    A visit to your blog is always a journey of many flavors and fine delicacies, and that includes the stories behind the food. What a lovely gift to have the Taste of Beirut several keystrokes away. It truly transports me like a magic carpet ride to places where cuisine and culture weave a delicious story. Thank you, Merci! Tom

  19. Posted December 28, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    HA…I will be sending this link on to my father-in-law for his review as Mouloukheih, or as he likes to call it “The Big M” is one of his favorite meals. He makes his (which is delicious) with dried leaves and it is more of a soup than a posole or stew as you show here. I’m sure he’ll find your interpretation of the dish inspiring. Love your serving pieces, they are stunning! Happy New Year! – S

  20. Posted December 28, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Funny … cilantro is used around the world, put it doesn’t seem like just another herb. In every dish, it seems to belong, as if the country we’re talking about at the time discovered it. It’s not just versatile. “Versatile” implies it adapts to its surroundings. But cilantro adapts and then becomes part of what it’s in. Mexican, Thai, Middle East, Northern Africa … it just always fits.

    Have really enjoyed following you this past year. Cheers and Happy 2012!

  21. Posted December 28, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Wow – this looks like the perfect family cold-weather dinner. With the bonus of hours of divine cooking aroma. This should be mandatory in Minnesota.

  22. Posted December 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Un véritable condensé d’ingrédients et de saveurs qui font de cette recette un plat exceptionnel. Un véritable voyage culinaire plein de dépaysement

  23. Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I have no doubt that this is amazing – I can tell just to read over the ingredients and look at the photo. It is the same feeling I had with your Tibeat, which by the way, I made for Christmas Eve and it was a HUGE hit. One of our new favorite things. And we had leftover rice with a fried egg on top – fabulous!!!

  24. toota1234
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    luved this recipe
    have to try

  25. Posted December 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    What a hearty and lovely soup! I have not seen this before, but my family would love these flavors :)

  26. Posted January 9, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve always been curious about trhying this green veg since when I read in a Claudia Roden’s book that it was probably already used by the pharaons in Egypt. I’ll have to try it next time I go to the ethnic store.

  27. Ralex6
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    FINALLY, the English word for Mouloukieh!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m American married to Palestinian for 32 years and I have NEVER found out the English translation for this middle Eastern comfort food. Allahi ertha allaiki!!!

  28. Posted September 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  29. Josee
    Posted June 7, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Your website is my absolute reference for anything Lebanese. I have tried so many recipes (this one included) and each one was a success. Lebanese cuisine seems deceptively simple but it is a bunch a small steps each very important to the success of the recipe. I married a Lebanese and we have a lot of Lebanese relatives living around us in the US so trying my hand at Middle Eastern cuisine was a bit intimidating.. thank you for being my “secret weapon”!!

  30. Joumana
    Posted June 7, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    @Josee; my pleasure!

  31. Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.

    Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Molokhia  (also just the chicken) [...]

  2. By Mouloukhieh on July 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    [...] To prepare it Lebanese-style  [...]

  3. […] found a recipe online for the dish. Maybe I’ll try it one day. But I might have the chance a lot sooner if […]

  4. By Taste of Beirut – Mouloukhieh on September 14, 2014 at 12:52 am

    […] To prepare it Lebanese-style  […]

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