Sunday, March 21, 2010

Creamy Lemon-Rice Soup with Mini Meatballs: Lemony Goodness for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

When I saw a recipe for Creamy Lemon Soup with Lamb Mint Meatballs in the March 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine it stayed in my head and I knew I had to make it. In an feature on the next generation of meatballs (the Puttanesca Sliders are on my must-make list too), I loved the combination of a Greek avgolemono (chicken and rice soup with lemon and beaten eggs) base with the savory tiny meatballs. The perfect comfort food.

The recipe can be found on the Sunset website here.

I did make a few changes to the recipe. First off, finding ground lamb is hit or miss here and my usual source was out so I subbed in some ground bison or buffalo. Since I am currently trying to avoid dairy, I subbed almond milk for the milk in the meatballs, which I baked instead of pan-frying both for ease and to reduce the fat. Finally I doubled the lemon--because I loves me some lemon. (My changes are in red below) The result; this Creamy Lemon-Rice Soup with Mini Meatballs, was exactly what I wanted and a bright, not-to-heavy soup to welcome Spring with.

Sunset Magazine says, "This classic Greek soup, avgolemono, gets its velvety texture from beaten eggs. Once you add them, be sure not to boil the soup, or the eggs will curdle. These lamb and mint meatballs are meant to be tiny so you get one in nearly every spoonful of soup."

Creamy Lemon-Rice Soup with Mini Meatballs
adapted from Juliet Glass, Sunset Magazine, March 2010
(Serves 6--Makes 8 Cups)

1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 garlic clove, minced
finely shredded zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp each chopped fresh mint leaves & flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 lb ground lamb (I used ground bison)

Soup and Serving:
7 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
wide ribbons of zest from 1/2 lemon (use a vegetable peeler)
1/2 cup aborio rice or sushi rice
1/4 cup vegetable oil (omitted)
3 large eggs
fresh juice of 1 large lemon (I used 2 lemons)
chopped fresh mint and parsley

Make meatballs: In a large bowl, combine egg, panko, milk, garlic, lemon zest, mint, parsley, salt, and pepper and let sit a few minutes for crumbs to soften. Add lamb, breaking up with your fingers, and mix well with your hands.

With wet hands, form meat mixture into 3/4-inch balls (use about 3/4 tsp for each)and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Chill until a little firmer, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make soup: In a large covered pot, bring broth and zest to a simmer. Add rice and simmer over low heat, partially covered, until rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.

While soup simmers, heat oil in a large heavy frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. Cook meatballs in 2 batches, turning once, to brown on 2 sides, about 6 minutes total. Shake pan, rolling meatballs around to brown a little further. With a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to paper towels. (I cooked the meatballs on a rack over a foil-lined pan in a 425 degree F. oven for about 10 minutes)

With a slotted spoon, remove zest from soup and discard. Add meatballs and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn off heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs to blend and add lemon juice. Whisk in a ladle of hot soup. One at a time, whisk in about 5 more ladles of soup, then return mixture to pot. Rewarm over low heat if needed. Serve immediately with more mint and parsley.

Per 1 1/2-Cup Serving (as written in magazine): 312 cal., 51% (158 cal), from fat; 21g protein; 18g fat (5.3g sat.); 20g carbs (0.7g fiber); 344mg sodium; 179mg chol.

Notes/Results: Creamy, hearty and delicious, this soup really hit the spot. A perfect soup to please kids with the mini-meatballs in almost every bite and no pesky vegetables getting in the way ;-) In fact, in making this again, I would probably throw a few veggies in just to up the nutrition a bit--maybe even some fennel for something different. Baking the meatballs worked perfectly. I baked them on a cookie rack over a foil covered pan so any fat and juices drip down. In addition to the lamb and bison, you could use lean ground beef, turkey or chicken in the meatballs. The soup goes together easily, with making the meatballs the only slightly time-consuming part and although best served fresh, reheats fine as long as you do it "low and slow" and don't boil it so the eggs don't curdle. I would make this again happily.

Lets take a look in the Souper Sunday kitchen and see who is here this week:

Debby from A Feast for the Eyes made a gorgeous green Creamy Asparagus Soup from one of her favorite recipe magazines, Cook's Country. She says, "Winner, winner, winner! Craig and I both loved this soup a lot. The first thing we commented about was the pretty color. We do taste with our eyes, don't we? The balance of asparagus flavor was perfect. Craig didn't taste the peas nor the Parmesan cheese. These surprising ingredients complemented the overall flavor of the soup. I think you could easily substitute the heavy cream for half and half, or even milk. To us, 1/4 cup of heavy cream for six servings isn't too big an indulgence."

Wanting to use up some leftover beer and please her meat and potato loving parents, Joanne from Eats Well With Others found the solution in this Irish Beef and Guinness Stew. Joanne says, "And I have to say. That the meat. And potatoes. And Guinness notwithstanding. This was amazing. The best stew I have ever had. The leftovers are even better. The day after the day after leftovers are. The. Best. And I imagine that the third day would have trumped all. But just try getting it to last that long. Impossible, I tell you. Im. Possible."

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies used the gift of some Caribbean pimento peppers from her husband's coworker to make a stew, this Island Style Beef Curry. She says, "With great trepidation I opened up a pepper. It looks like an elongated and pointy habenero, and indeed is related, but has no heat. It is gloriously fruity and floral. I braced myself when I bit into a tiny piece, sure that fire would follow. It didn't. No heat, all flavour. So I did my best to create a laid-back Island-style stew, cue the steel drums."

Here's a new friend to welcome, Zibi from her blog, Fresh Slowcooking. I love that Zibi found my blog and Souper Sundays while looking for a gingery soup broth and finding my post on a Tyler Florence recipe! Her resulting Meatball Ginger Stew looks wonderful. She says, "I prepared this in my slow cooker, and Instead of using strips of beef, I made baby meatballs out of some grass-fed ground beef we had in the freezer. Since my husband and I were both feeling under the weather, I was aiming for something really gingery that would soothe our symptoms. In the end the soup had a really meaty flavour and the ginger and green onions added a refreshing flavour to the soup overall. It's probably due to my dulled senses from my cold, but I think this soup would actually benefit from even more ginger, depending on your tastes." Glad to have you here Zibi!

Instead of buying the Taiwanese salads from the self-serve counter at her local Asian market, Christine from Kits Chow began making her own healthier versions at home, like this colorful Carrot Salad. Christine says, "I stopped buying the salads because of their heavy hand with the salt. The salads were inedible. The salt wasn't mixed into the salads and I bit into a hunk of coarse salt. Now I make my own. I used the mandoline to slice the vegetables but it isn't necessary."

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina made some cute little "packages" of Rolled Sandwich with Russian Salad for a party she recently hosted. She says, "As many of you already know, I prepared an 'all-appetizers' lunch, and I promised to post all the recipes. I started the lunch with some canapes and brochettes: this is the first one. You can prepare Russian salad at home the day before... or buy it if you feel overwhelmed! Tie the sandwich with a chives (or nira garlic) leaf. If it breaks, take a deep breath and start with a new leaf."

Great recipes this week--thanks to Debby, Joanne, Natashya, Zibi, Christine and Graziana for joining in the fun. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich recipe you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sunday logo for all the details.

Have a wonderful week and Happy Spring!


  1. Oh this is an array of deliciousness galore....
    have a super fantastic day Deb....

  2. Deb this looks great! There can never be too much lemon for me, good call!
    Happy Sunday~LeslieMichele

  3. Deb, This soup looks wonderful! I've never had a lemon-based soup, but since I LOVE lemon, it has to be terrific! thanks! Roz

  4. This is a very unusual combo for me, but one I would definitely try. It looks beautiful! Another great roundup as well!

  5. Delicious round-up!
    Love the lemony goodness of the soup - and the cute little meatballs!

  6. Great roundup Deb! The mini meatballs have sold me on that soup. Why is mini food so cute? I'm with you on adding in some veggies. I'm thinking spinach would be nice. Of course, you could always top it off with a few capers;D

  7. Thanks for including me Deb. I laughed when I saw that your soup also had mini meatballs in it :)
    It looks and sounds wonderful.

  8. Deb, your soup is a great choice. Lemon is so "spring" and I would definitely hope to try this version (as soon as I get caught up on so many bookmarked recipes). Great roundup, and thank you for including me.

  9. Lovely roundup as usual! I love lemon too and your soup looks so good. You use such incredible ingredients.

  10. YUM YUM and quadruple YUM. Your recipe reminds me of the Greek Avgolemono - probably just because of the lemon... but the meatballs are a great touch.

  11. Vanillastrawberryspringfields--thank you! Have a great day too.

    LeslieMichele--me too! :-)

    Roz--I hope you give it a try--if you love lemon I know you will like it.

    Lori--Thanks! It really works well together.

    Natashya--thanks and thanks for joining in.

    Kim--mini food just tastes better. ;-) Spinach is a great idea.

    Zibi--great minds! ;-) Thanks for joining in. Hope you come back!

    Debby--thanks! I know what you mean about having a ton of bookmarks! Thanks for joining in this week!

    Laurie-thanks and thanks for stopping by. ;-)

    Canadian Foodie--Thanks! The author said it was a take on avgolemono--with the lemon, chicken and rice in it and you can't beat mini meatballs. ;-)

  12. That is definitely a gorgeous soup, beautiful lemony color, beautiful texture and combination! hmmm

  13. I always think of made avgolemono, but the idea of meatballs is new for me and absolutely amazing!

  14. I can already tell that I would love the texture of this soup! And those lamb meatballs....mmmm

    I sub almond milk in for dairy all the time! And I've never had any problems with fact, I think it makes it taste better.

    What a gorgeous line-up we've got here!

  15. I adore avgolemono, and I think adding little meatballs to it is genius!

  16. The soup looks delicious. Avgolemono seems to be making the rounds in the food blogosphere. I must try it some time.

    Nice round-up, too.

  17. Oh, I have to agree, I do love lemon! I can't say as I've ever erally had it in soup though, so this intrigues me. Sounds like a fantastic spring soup, just right as the weather is beginning to turn!

  18. I'm really going to have to try this. The lamb meatballs are a fantastic idea and take an old favorite over the top. Once again, the round-up is wonderful.

  19. Everything looks fantastic, now that spring is here I'm super in the mood for all things lemon ;) thanks for posting!

  20. Deb, the lemon soup with mini meatballs looks delicious, love the color and the ingredients in it, so refreshing...still have to try lemon based soup ;-)

  21. Oh wow Deb, that is one amazing looking soup! What gorgeous photos. I would love to try it with some veggie meatballs, do you think that would work?

  22. I had to take a double look at those sammies at the end! creative :)

  23. Oh what a beautiful soup! I felt like I could almost taste it as you described it. I love it.

  24. This looks delicious!! I love lemon things!

  25. Lemony soup with mini meatballs sounds terrific!

  26. citronetvanille--Thank you! ;-)

    Graziana--I am a fan of avgolemono soup too and the meatballs took it to the next level for sure!

    Joanne--I think almond milk and rice milk both work really well in most everything.


    Foodycat--it was really good--who doesn't love mini meatballs!?! ;-)

    Andreas--it is a favorite of mine and worth a try with or without meatballs! ;-)

    Ty's Mommy--if you love lemon I bet you would love this soup! ;-)

    Rebecca--thank you!

    Mary--they really do update a classic! ;-)

    Patty--lemon is on my mind lately too!

    Juliana--I really think lemon is great it soups--so bright and good!

    Andrea--I don't see why it wouldn't work--worth a try at least. Maybe using a light veggie stock?

    Kat--aren't they great?! Graziana is so creative!

    Reeni--thanks! I was really happy with how it turned out. I wished I had more! ;-)

    Jessica--I am all for anything lemon too! ;-)

    5 Star Foodie--thank you! ;-)

  27. How on earth did I miss that beautiful lemon soup in Sunset. This looks just wonderful. As always, love Souper Sunday

  28. Lee Ann--I saw meatballs and had to look! ;-) Thanks for the positive feedback.


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