This is lovely and comforting soup that appears a lot on our table. You can easily have it as a substantial lunch or for a light dinner on cold winter days. Children also love it – especially the little meatballs. Yoghurt gives a creamy texture and makes it a healthy choice too. Yoghurt features a lot in Turkish cooking, thanks to our Nomadic past. It is rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B and carries good bacteria that supports the immune system and helps indigestion; just what we need with cold winter days coming up.
This soup is also a great example of how we use spices to flavor the dishes; the dried mint and the red pepper flakes work magically and bring a refreshing and lovely spicy (moderate) flavor. This soup can be cooked ahead of time and freezes well.
Serves 8 – 10 generously
Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes
For the mini meatballs:
225gr/8oz ground beef or lamb
110gr/4oz long grain rice, washed and rinsed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
90ml/4 tablespoons flour (placed on a tray)
Bowl of water to wet the hands to make the meatballs
For the yoghurt sauce:
1.75lt/3 pints/7 ½ cups hot water (you can also use any stock of your choice)
15 ml/1 tablespoon mild olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten well
1lt/1 ¾ pints /4cups plain whole milk yoghurt (brand Fage works well)
4 fl oz/ ½ cup hot water
1/2 tablespoon dried mint
11/2 teaspoon (or more!) red pepper flakes
Drizzle of olive oil to serve
Combine the rice, ground meat, salt and ground black pepper, and mix well. Wet your hands and shape the mixture as little meatballs of 1/2″ diameter. Place the meatballs in the tray with flour on. After putting every 6-7 meatballs, shake the tray in a way to coat the meatballs with flour. That will prevent them from sticking to each other and falling apart.
Boil the water in a saucepan; add the olive oil and the salt. Once the water boils, place the meatballs gently into the water – a couple at a time – . Stir gently so that they won’t stick together and simmer for 15 minutes.
Place the remaining flour in the tray in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and egg, and whisk well. Add the hot water from the saucepan to the bowl and stir gently. That will help the egg “not to cook” in the soup and adjust to the mixture. Now stir the contents of the bowl into the saucepan slowly, while mixing continuously. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Once cooked, turn the heat off, add the olive oil, dried mint and red pepper flakes, and mix well. Serve warm.
Note: You can also add any vegetable of your choice to this soup; diced carrots, peas or broccoli work well.