Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
  2. Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Simple Sunday Soups

This first soup, Italian Bean Soup with Pappardelle, was hearty and delicious. It was inspired by a soup from Trattoria dai Mugnai in Monteveglio, a village outside of Bologna. The second soup, Spanish Garlic Soup, was inspired by an “end of the month” meal, a “meal to make quickly with whatever is on hand and money is tight,” from José Andrés.

The recipes for these simple soups were adapted from Milk Street, the Italian bean and pasta soup from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rebecca Richmond, and the Spanish garlic soup from Milk Street TV, contributed by Christopher Kimball and Matthew Card.

Italian Bean Soup with Pappardelle

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 to 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 15.5 oz cans Roman (borlotti), cranberry, or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or sage
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind, plus finely grated Parmesan, to serve
  • 8 to 9 oz fresh or dried pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettucine, cut or broken into 2-inch lengths (see Note)
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste darkens slightly and begins to stick to the pan, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, rosemary, Parmesan rind (use if you have it!), 5 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork, about 10 minutes.
  4. Off heat, remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Using an immersion blender, pulse the bean mixture until creamy but not completely smooth. (see Note) (Alternatively, if transferring to a blender, let cool for 10 minutes and purée in 2 batches before returning to the pot.)
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium. Add the pasta and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente (refer to the package for cooking times, but begin checking for doneness a minute or two sooner than the directions indicate). (I used dried pappardelle, broken into 2-inch lengths, and cooked it for 6 to 7 minutes.)
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with oil and top with grated Parmesan and additional pepper, as desired.

Notes:

  • If you can find sheets of fresh pasta, they work nicely, too—simply cut them into rough 2-inch squares.
  • Don’t puree the beans until completely smooth; leave them with some texture.

Spanish Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo)

Yield: Serves 4

  • 6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra
  • 4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 oz sourdough or other rustic bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups), divided
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 T chicken bouillion (I used Better Than Boullion)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low, combine the scallion whites, garlic and 3 tablespoons of the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add both paprikas and cook, stirring, until fragrant and darkened, 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 cup of the bread cubes and stir well.
  4. Whisk in the water and bouillon, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally to break up bread, for 15 minutes. Whisk vigorously to ensure bread is thoroughly broken up.
  5. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the remaining 3 cups bread, the scallion greens, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth. (It is important to do this step to prevent the yolks from curdling when added to the pot.)
  7. Remove the soup from the heat. Off heat, vigorously whisk the egg yolks into the soup, then whisk in the vinegar.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  9. To serve, fill individual bowls with the crouton mixture, then ladle the soup over them. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired.

Roasted Eggplant & Lentil Soup with Fried Sage

I made this healthy and hearty soup with beautiful eggplant from a friend’s garden. I was also able to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes with her amazing harvest, Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs.”

The soup was initially more fluid, but I preferred it re-heated and cooked down, as pictured. We scooped it up with fresh Portuguese Rolls. Perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.

Yield: Serves 4

  • one 1 1/4-pound eggplant, quartered lengthwise (I used 2 small)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup French green lentils (5 1/2 ounces) 
  • 14 large sage leaves, divided, plus more, as desired, for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
  4. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of the stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Add the lentils and the remaining 1 cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan.
  6. Stir the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 12 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 20 seconds per side.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

Salmorejo (Andalusian Tomato & Bread Soup)

Christopher Kimball of Milk Street TV announced that this chilled tomato soup was superior in both taste and ease of preparation to my beloved summer gazpacho. I had to try it!

This puréed velvety soup is more elegant, creamy, and filling than gazpacho. We ate it as a complete meal with a green salad. It can be made year round with Campari tomatoes, which I used, or made with peak-season summer tomatoes, of course.

This recipe was adapted from MilkStreetTV.com, contributed by Diane Unger. The bread is undetectable in the finished soup but creates the desirable consistency. The sherry vinegar is an essential ingredient as well. I loved all of the garnishes. Lovely.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored (I used Campari tomatoes)
  • 2 1/2 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)(I used fresh sourdough)
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 T sherry vinegar, plus more to serve
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto (about 2 ounces), torn into pieces
  • 3 or 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced or quartered, optional
  • finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, bread, bell pepper, garlic, sugar, vinegar, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Blend on high until completely smooth and no bits of tomato skins remain, about 1 minute. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. With the blender running, gradually add 3/4 cup olive oil.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl of lidded container, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 4 hours.
  5. While the soup chills, make the hard-cooked eggs, if using. Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with cold water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch of water. Bring to a full boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, drain. Place eggs in an ice bath. When cool enough to handle, peel and quarter or slice. Set aside.
  6. While the eggs cool, place a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering.
  7. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool completely, then roughly chop; set aside.
  8. Taste the soup and season again with salt and pepper. (Chilling the soup blunts the flavor and additional seasoning may be required.)
  9. Ladle the soup into (preferably chilled) bowls. Top with the prosciutto, hard-cooked egg (if using) and chopped parsley or cilantro.
  10. Drizzle with additional oil and vinegar, as desired. (I omitted this addition.)

Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

I am a big fan of toppings, so this creamy, earthy, and hearty vegetarian soup caught my eye. It is served over toasted chunks of bread and then garnished with crunchy, spiced chickpeas, lemon zest, parsley, a sprinkle of cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. I also loved that the soup incorporated a little spice from harissa.

This recipe was adapted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan, via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans which significantly expedited the cooking process. I also served the soup over toasted sourdough boule chunks in lieu of rustic bread. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar, plus more to taste

For the Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 loaf hearty rustic bread (about 6 to 8 ounces)(I used 1/2 of a sourdough boule)
  • 1 cup chopped onion, from 1 medium onion
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 T), for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

To Prepare the Crispy Chickpeas:

  1. Transfer the rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  2. Cover with another towel (or paper towels) on top, rubbing gently to dry.
  3. Remove top towel and let air-dry for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. (I let them dry for 2+ hours.)

To Prepare the Soup:

  1. In a pressure cooker (I used a stove-top pressure cooker), combine soaked chickpeas, 5 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot.)
  2. Place the pot over high heat, until the pressure cooker reaches the second ring (high). Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure for 35 minutes. (If using a stockpot, bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.)
  3. Remove from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. While chickpeas are cooking, cut bread into thick slices, then tear or cut slices into bite-size pieces.
  6. Place bread in one layer on large rimmed baking sheet and toast until crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan and set aside.
  7. Finish the crunchy chickpeas: Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the towels from baking sheet with the chickpeas, and toss the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and za’atar until well coated.
  9. Roast until golden and crispy, about 13 to 18 minutes, tossing halfway through. When chickpeas are still hot, sprinkle lightly with more salt. Taste and add more salt or za’atar, or both, as desired.
  10. When the chickpeas for the soup are tender, discard bay leaves.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil to a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  12. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
  13. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
  15. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cumin and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add a splash of the chickpea cooking liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat.
  16. Add chickpea purée and onion mixture to soup, along with harissa and lemon juice, and stir well. Add a little water if soup seems too thick, and more salt, if needed.
  17. To serve, divide toasted bread pieces among soup bowls, then ladle in soup.
  18. Garnish with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil, more cumin and some of the crispy chickpeas — you’ll have leftovers. Serve hot, with more harissa on the side, as desired.

Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices

I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Soup:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
  • 4 cups water
  • 21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

For the Topping:

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
  • tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To Make the Soup:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
  6. Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
  2. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
  3. Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

White Borscht

Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, puréeing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with crème fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.

I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton.  I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious 😉 ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.

Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12

  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
  • 1 full tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, woody stems removed, fronds minced

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