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

Posted Mar 21 2010 3:45pm
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 R olled 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!

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