There are two very similar beef and rice meatball soups that I like and that I was torn between making … a Greek version in an egg-lemon sauce which is called “youvarlakia avgolemono” and a Spanish/Mexican version with a tomato based sauce called “albondigas”. I chose the Greek version because I wasn’t in the mood for tomatoes and because I hadn’t made an avgolemono soup in some time. The previous version used shredded chicken and rice in a flavourful and slightly tart broth … chicken soup with a definite Greek twist or two.
NOTE: You can cook your meatballs right in the chicken broth but I wanted a cleaner preparation so I precooked the rice meatballs in salted water. The rest of the soup was made with chicken broth. If you don’t want to lose the flavour from the cooking liquid or don’t have chicken broth, remove the meatballs, strain the cooking liquid and add 2 heaping tbsp of chicken soup mix to it for a more ‘chicken-y’ taste.
youvarlakia = meat and rice meatballs
avgolemono = egg-lemon sauce
Greek Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Sauce (Youvarlakia Avgolemono) – serves 6, 3 meatballs per person
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp uncooked rice or orzo
1 finely chopped onion (plus 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil for sauteing, optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper for the meatballs)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth (plus 1 tsp of salt if using water)
For the Avgolemono Sauce:
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
juice of 2 lemons (more to taste)
1 heaping tbsp flour
NOTE: 1 lemon gives you ~3 tbsp of juice
Shredded fresh herbs (parsley or mint) or sliced green onion
I don’t like the texture of boiled onions in my meatballs so I sauteed them and the finely minced garlic in 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, drained and let them cool before adding them to the meat mixture.
Making the meatballs:
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, rice, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, oregano, salt, pepper and beaten egg. Mix all the ingredients well. (Use your hands!) You may refrigerate the meat mixture until the next day at this point.
Put 1/2 cup of flour in a small bowl for coating your meatballs.
Shaping and cooking the meatballs:
Roll the meat mixture into small balls (~2 tbsp each) and then roll each ball around in the flour (shaking off any excess flour). Place the meatball in a stock pot that’s large enough to fit the meatballs in a single layer. Repeat until the meat mixture is used up. (I got exactly 18 meatballs.)
Fill the stock pot with enough broth so that it goes about half an inch above the meatballs, and bring the broth to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 45 min or until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender.
About 10 minutes before your meatballs are done, begin making your egg-lemon sauce.
Making the egg-lemon sauce (Avgolemono):
Separate the three eggs into two bowls. Place the yolks in a small bowl and beat gently with a fork.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg whites by hand until they’re frothy (a few minutes). While still beating, add the beaten yolks to the bowl slowly. Continue beating and add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour. Stop beating and add the lemon juice. Start by only adding 3 tbsp of the lemon juice. You can always add more at the end. Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.
Finishing the soup:
Once the meatballs are cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a medium sized bowl.
You may want to cut one in half to make sure it’s cooked through.
Skim any scum from the top of the broth so it looks nice and clean. Or you may prefer to strain the broth through a sieve into another stock pot or a dutch oven.
This came from straining 2 cups of the cooking liquid which I used for the egg-lemon sauce.
Take 2 cups of the hot broth, a ladle at a time, and slowly pour it into the egg froth, mixing well as you do so. NOTE: This is important or the eggs may curdle when you add them into the hot broth. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.
Pour the egg/flour/broth mixture back into the stock pot and bring the broth to a slow boil. Taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted by adding more salt and pepper or more lemon juice.
Place 3 meatballs in each serving bowl and pour about one cup of the hot egg-lemon sauce over them.
Serve immediately with a sprinkling of fresh herbs or sliced green onion on top.
NOTE: You may also add the cooked meatballs to the egg-lemon sauce and serve family style out of the stock pot.
The frothy sauce will lose its texture on standing and reheating so you’ll want to serve it immediately.