One of the most traditional and homely winter soups is this Giouvarlakia (Greek meatball and vegetable soup) .
Giouvarlakia or Yiouvarlakia are little bite sized meatballs cooked in Avgolemono sauce. The yiouvarlakia meatballs are traditionally made of mince beef but you can also use pork or veal mince. I sometimes mix veal with pork mince and I find the end result delicious.
What is Avgolemono or Augolemono sauce?
Avgolemono is a combination of two words. Avgo or Augo, which means an egg in Greek and Lemoni which means lemon in Greek. This juicy slightly sour sauce adds incredible depth to the meatball soup. Giouvarlakia or Yiouvarlakia would be a plain meatball soup was it not for the Avgolemono sauce! It is, thus crucial to get this Avgolemon sauce correct.
Follow my Giouvarlakia (Greek meatball and vegetable soup ) recipe and prepare this warm soup in no time.
What are the secrets to this Greek meatball soup?
The secrets to the Avgolemon soup are first and foremost not to rush when preparing the avgolemono and secondly use of fresh lemons. If you rush when making the avgolemono sauce you may end up with scramble egg sauce. So please follow the steps meticulously. Moreover, freshly squeezed lemons bring the additional sharpness the soup requires.
Here, you will find a more colourful ,Thracian, version of the beloved Greek meatball soup with the addition of vegetables (carrots and celery) and herbs. I call it colourful Giouvarlakia or Yiouvarlakia, as the carrots and celery stand out and provide this lovely colour to the soup.
The addition of carrots in this traditional Greek meatball soup not only brings colour but also sweetness. In addition, the added celery and dill provide an earthy taste to the soup.
Giouvarlakia / Yiouvarlakia (Greek meatball and vegetable soup)
- 400g beef mince (can use veal or pork mice as well)
- 150g Greek Carolina rice or Arborio rice
- 850 mls water
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 2 celery sprigs
- 2 dill sprigs
- 4 tbspoons (or 100g) of plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsb cumin
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 40 mls olive oil
- juice from 2 lemons
- 1 tsp butter
- chicken stock (optional)
For this recipe you will need the following:
- a large pot; for the meatball soup
- a large round bowl; for the mince
- a square bowl ; to flour the meatballs
- large round bowl; for the egg-lemon sause (avgolemono sauce)
Giouvarlakia or Yiouvarlakia
- Assemble all the ingredients for this recipe along with the kitchen equipment.
- Start by chopping the onions finely and cutting the carrots in small pieces. Chop the celery and dill too.
- In a large bowl, mix mince with the half of the chopped onion, 1/2 tsb salt ,1/2 tsb white pepper,1/2 tsb cumin, 3tbspoon rice.Knead the mince with the spices for approximately 2-3 mins until the spices and the rice are incorporated.
- With the help of a teaspoon, take portions of the mince mixture and shape them into equally sized round balls.
- Add flour in a separarte square bowl.
- Add a few of these teaspoon sized meatballs in the square bowl and cover them with flour. The number of the meatballs you add in the bowl each time will depend on the size of your bowl. Remember that your goal is to cover the meatballs with flour so only need a couple of meatballs at a time would be advisable. Shake the bowl a few times so that the meatballs are covered with flour.
- Repeat this step until you have floured all the meatballs adequately.
- Add 700 mls of water in a large pot. Make sure your water is of room temperature as this will allow the meatballs to both retain their shape but also thicken your soup. If you add hot water, the meatballs will not be able to retain their shape . In addition, the flour that is covering the meatballs will become dough in hot water.
- Continue this until you have added all your meatballs in the pan.
- Season to taste.
- Now, bring the meatball soup to boil.
- Once you have done this, there will be a froth on the top of your boiled soup. Remove this froth.
- Let the meatballs boil for approximately 10mins on medium to high heat. Advice: Do not cover the lid on the pan at this stage.
- Pour the stock (optional) and add olive oil, rice, carrots, celery, cumin and the other half of the onion.
- Taste the soup and season if needed.
- Let the soup boil for 30-35mins on medium heat. Put the lid on the pot.
- At this stage you may need to add more water (thus I set aside some from the onset of the cooking).
- Add the chopped dill and the butter . The butter needs to be cold and not of room temperature. The cold butter will thicken your meatball soup.
- Let the soup cool and serve.
Egg-lemon sauce (Avgolemono or Augolemono sauce)
- This is definitely the trickiest part of the meatball soup. If this Avgolemono sauce is not executed properly , the end result will be a scramble egg soup.
- In a large bowl beat 2 whole eggs for approximately 2-3mins.
- Then add the fresh juice of 2 lemons and continue to beat the eggs for a couple of minutes.
- With the help of a ladle, take each time a ladle worth of juice/ liquid from your meatball soup and add it into this Avgolemono sauce. Make sure you add the meatball soup liquids slowly in the avgolemono sauce bowl and simultaneously whisk. If you do not stir, you will end up with scrambled eggs.
- Add approximately 4 ladle's worth of liquid into the avgolemono sauce bowl.
- Let the avgolemono sauce rest for 2-3mins.
Meatball soup (cont)
- Once you have prepared the Augolemono sauce, then start slowly adding it back in the pot. It is vital not to rush this step too.
- Make sure you add the Avgolemono sauce slowly whilst continuously stirring the meatball soup. Tip: Add the Avgolemono sauce with one hand whilst stirring steadily and continuously with the other hand.