Greek meatball soup with avgolemono sauce (Youvarlakia)

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Greek meatball soup with avgolemono sauce (Youvarlakia)

Youvarlakia is a traditional Greek soup made with meatballs and finished in a creamy, lemony egg sauce called avgolemono.  The Greek meatballs are traditionally made with beef mince mixed with rice or bulgur and added herbs.

I frequently make this hearty meal in winter. It is my youngest son’s favourite meal, and he asks for it often. I love the look in his eyes when I put this meal in front of him at dinner time!

The word ‘Youvarlakia’ means round in Turkish. Greece was under  Ottoman occupation for 400 years, which significantly impacted the Greek society and the Greek language.  Many Turkish words are used today by the Greek people, and it’s also common to see many Greek words regularly used in the Turkish language.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze this meal?

You can choose to freeze the meatballs uncooked once formed or freeze the cooked youvarlakia soup once cooled. Defrost in the fridge overnight and warm slowly over low heat for a few minutes, so the egg doesn’t curdle.

Can I use a different grain to make the Greek meatball soup?

Absolutely! Substitute the same amount of rice for millet, quinoa, spelt grain or brown rice. It’s a great recipe to introduce a new grain to your family as it’s easy to hide it in the soup without compromising the taste. You might need to adjust the liquid quantity a little depending on the absorbency of the grain used. 

Can I use chicken mince instead?

Yes. Traditionally beef mince is used, but you can substitute the same amount with chicken or turkey or a mixture of beef and pork like I have in this recipe.

How long can I keep the meatball soup in the fridge?

Once cooled, store in the fridge for up to 4 days and warm slowly over low heat for a few minutes, so the egg doesn’t curdle.

Greek meatball soup with avgolemono sauce (Youvarlakia)

Youvarlakia is a traditional Greek soup made with meatballs and finished in a creamy, lemony egg sauce called avgolemono. The Greek meatballs are traditionally made with beef mince mixed with rice or bulgur and added herbs.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Meat & Seafood, Soup
Cuisine Greek
Servings 8
Calories 636 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large onion grated
  • 1 kg mince (500g beef, 500g pork)
  • 1 cup parsley
  • ½ cup mint chopped
  • ½ cup medium-grain rice
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup tapioca flour or cornflour
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 1.5 L stock beef OR half stock-half water

Avgolemono sauce

  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Instructions
 

  • (Optional step) Caramelise the onion. Saute the one chopped onion with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for around 20min. This step is not necessary, but the caramelised onion will add some more flavour to the soup. Leave on the side.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the minced meat, rice, grated onion, chopped (or caramelised) onion, egg, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, parsley, mint, salt and pepper.
  • Roll the mince mixture into meatball size portions and coat with the tapioca or cornflour.
    youverlakia-meatball-soup
  • (Optional step) place butter and the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same pot you sauteed the onion in. Place the meatballs in batches and shallow fry in medium-high heat until they start to get some colour on all sides. You don't want to cook them through. Remove them from the pan and leave them on the side.
    Youverlakia meatballs
  • Place the stock into a large deep pot and bring it to a boil. Carefully place meatballs into the cooking pot, one by one. Bring back into a boil and cook on medium heat for around 30min.
  • When the youvarlakia soup has cooked, switch it off, cover and leave on the side to prepare the avgolemono sauce.
  • Prepare the avgolemono sauce. Using a handheld mixer or blender, beat the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of water on high for around 2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the 3 egg yolks and continue beating on high for another minute. Then add the lemon juice and zest and continue mixing for another 30sec. Reduce the speed to medium-low and with a ladle spoon, start adding liquid from the pot to the mixer in a SLOW STREAM. It is very important to pour the liquid very slowly at the start, as this will temper the egg mixture gently and prevent it from curdling. Continue adding the stock, gradually increasing the amount as the mixture warms up and is less likely to curdle.
  • When you have added 4-5 ladlefuls of liquid into the egg mixture, pour the avgolemono sauce back into the pot (that has been removed from the heat) while stirring continuously in a circular motion for a few seconds until well combined. Because we switched off the pot of soup a few minutes ago, the soup is still very hot; therefore, once you add the avgolemono sauce in, it will start to thicken the meatball soup and cook the egg without needing to be over the heat. If you need to warm up the soup, you can heat it up slowly over low heat after adding the avgolemono sauce, but do not let it boil as the soup may curdle.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Notes

1. When reheating the youvarlakia avgolemono soup, do so slowly, over low heat and while stirring. This will prevent the avgolemono soup from curdling.
2. When preparing the avgolemono sauce, you can also beat the egg whites and yolks together without separating. The egg mixture will not be as frothy, but it will still be nice and creamy. I do this when I am short of time.
TIP for avoiding curdling the eggs when making the avgolemono sauce. The eggs will not curdle if you use room temperature eggs and add the hot liquid to the egg mixture in a slow stream, but if you are still worried that your eggs will curdle because the liquid is too hot, follow this tip. When you switch off the pot (step 6), take a couple of ladlefuls of liquid out into a mug and leave on the side to cool down a little. When you start making the avgolemono (step 7), start adding the liquid from the mug first in a slow stream. It will be a little cooler than the liquid straight from the pot and are less likely to curdle the avgolemono sauce.
3. Can easily substitute the rice with other grains. You might need to adjust the liquid quantity a little depending on the absorbency of the grain used. Try brown rice, millet or quinoa. I have also made this soup with buckwheat instead of rice with great success. Do not hesitate to experiment with the different grains, as this soup is quite forgiving when it comes to which grain you use.
4. Browning the meatballs and caramelising the onion gives the soup a more complex flavour, but this step is optional. Sometimes I skip these steps when I am after a lighter but still flavourful soup.

Nutrition

Calories: 636kcalCarbohydrates: 121gProtein: 11gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 1406mgPotassium: 532mgFiber: 5gSugar: 88gVitamin A: 923IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Greek meatball soup with avgolemono sauce, Youvarlakia
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