What has taken me so long to learn about molokhia (mulukhiyyeh) soup (Egypt, Lebanon, etc)???
A recent post in a foraging group led me on an adventure with our local, invasive cheesewheel mallow plant (Malva parviflora or Malva neglecta). Although the mallow used in molokhia soup is a different species (jute mallow or Corchorus olitorius)…our invasive mallow in California works just as well!
These nutrient-dense leaves, packed with Vit C, calcium, and a number of other nutrients and trace minerals…are a powerhouse of nutrition and pleasing to taste! My 3 1/2 year old literally said, “I really like this soup, mama!”
As with most things that we eat, though, she tends to like things that we harvest by hand more than store bought foods. It think it’s about agency and confidence — that she picked it herself — as well as relationship and connection to the plant we harvested. Kids love nibbling on the cheesewheels (the seeds of this species of mallow)…and my daughter was no exception.
I adapted this recipe and enjoyed it last week…after picking mallow from a local open area that morning. It was soupier than it needed to be…so next time…less broth or more mallow leaves.
You can use the recipe above or follow these basic guidelines:
- Cover three handfuls of mallow leaves with chicken bone broth and simmer until they wilt. They WILL shrink like spinach, so use more than you think so that your soup is thick and not too brothy. Typically, this soup is served with rice, pita, or bread…so you want it to be thick enough to ‘sop it up’ with bread!
- Roast about 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic in ghee (or sunflower oil) until lightly browned
- Put everything in a blender or food processor (or an immersion blender would work well); add salt and pepper to taste; blend until chunky
- Serve with rice, pita, or bread (we used a quinoa-based sourdough bread that we love)
My friend from Palestine saw my post on Facebook, and added another way they prepare this dish in her home country:
“We call this khubbaizeh; one of the most delicious things for me! We do not make into a soup like mulukhiyyeh. We cook it with onions and olive oil either whole leaves or coarsely chopped. You start with the onions and olive oil. You squeeze a lemon at the end. You can also add tomatoes. We eat it with bread or as a side dish.”
I just want to add that I have used mallow in topical salves for hot, irritated skin conditions. Generally, in herbalism, we view mallow plants as cooling and soothing to the skin and mucous membranes. They are restorative to these tissues, offering up plant-based mucilage.
Other well-known plants in the mallow family are okra and hibiscus!
Some other ideas for enjoying mallow:
- making mallow chips (like kale chips)
- using mallow leaves in soups and stews (see pics above, beef stew left and pozole, right)
- crushing the leaves up into a gooey green mass and placing it on a wound (the leaves are vulnerary, wound healing)
- drying the leaves and storing them for making tea when you have a dry cough (add fennel seeds for taste)
Enjoy exploring mallow, a commonly overlooked herbal ally and edible wild green!