armenian chick pea and pasta shell soup (revisited)

This is another of bob's favorite Isgouhi dishes regularly eaten at the in-laws that somehow escaped official documentation for far too long. Made with lamb's neck which in 2010 we learned is really cheap in local supermarkets when you can find it (each lamb only has one little neck) apparently because philly Main Liners have no clue what to do with lamb's neck, which is probably true of most average Americans. It must be the ethnic groups we have to compete with in spotting these bargains, but the situation is anything but clear since there is no way to know how many other people are grabbing our lamb necks before we can spot them. And then make any one of a number of other fabulous Isgouhi dishes like cauliflower rice or malanga soup or herriseh or okra.

However, the lamb's neck is just the flavoring, not the exaggerated meat presence of most American dishes that involve dead animal parts. Here the chick peas provide the major protein ingredient. Whole wheat baby pasta shells are an upgrade for carb conscious cooks.

Oops, we have an early version of this in 1996, so this is the updated version. This time we clean the meat off the bones before returning it to the soup.


1 lb lamb's neck (or lamb shoulder, lamb whatever)
5 c water
2 bay leaves
1 c dry chick peas (soaked overnight) or 1 can cooked chick peas
salt and black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 T (heaping) tomato paste
1/2 T (heaping) red pepper paste
1/2 t Middle Eastern red pepper powder
1/2 t allspice
1 c precooked baby pasta shells (whole grain works here!)
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 stick (4 T) butter
4 or 5 garlic cloves, pressed
1 T dried mint.


  1. If using dry chick peas, presoak overnight in water.
  2. Bring the meat to boil in 5 c water in an uncovered pressure cooker with 2 bay leaves and salt and pepper and boil until it foams a bit. Then drain and rinse, discarding the bay leaves. If using dried chick peas, you can boil them too in this meat purging phase.
  3. Return the meat to the pressure cooker and just cover with water, adding in 1 bay leaf and salt and pepper, and pressure cook at full steam for about 10 minutes (depends on pressure cooker).
  4. Open the cooker, remove the meat and clean away the meat from the bones and then return to the pot.
  5. Add in the tomato and red pepper pastes dissolved in a bit of warm water, then add Middle Eastern red pepper and allspice.
  6. Meanwhile cook the pasta shells separately so they are ready to throw into the pot at this point.
  7. Add in the lemon juice.
  8. Simmer 5 minutes more.
  9. Meanwhile in a nonstick skillet melt the butter and press in the garlic and the dried mint and briefly sauté the garlic without burning it. Stir this into the soup when done, but boil 5 more minutes after incorporating it.


  1. Illustrations available.
chickpeashellsoup.htm: 16-feb-2011 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]