This is the PERFECT soup to make with that ground beef in your freezer! It's different and it's delicious!
Prior to creating this version of Greek Meatball Soup, I had never heard of it! I'm so sad that I've been missing out on this very easy and extremely tasty soup for all these years, but I'm thrilled that I stumbled across it quite by accident.
Usually when I make recipes that I have not heard of, like this Chicken Adobo recipe, it's because one of my readers asks me to make it in the Ninja Foodi. Getting requests from you is awesome and has really been inspiring and very tasty!
However, that didn't happen this time. I simply stumbled across Greek Meatball Soup when looking for inspiration on what to make with a plethora of ground beef in my freezer. I wasn't even looking for a recipe for my website, I just wanted something different for dinner!
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It sounded a little odd to me and I like odd, so I gave it a try. I looked at many recipes on the internet for inspiration and used them as a basic guideline, but wanted to add my own touches.
I realize that these changes are not traditional and I'm certainly not claiming that this is an authentic version of Greek Meatball Soup, which usually doesn't have carrots or spinach in it. So, if you want a more authentic version, feel free to leave them out!
The first time I made it, I didn't include them and it was delicious, but I felt like I could add in some more color and texture. The result was simply amazing and I know you are going to LOVE it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, absolutely! Simply double all the ingredients and keep the cooking time the same. You will need at least a 6 qt pressure cooker to double the recipe. You can also use a large stockpot on the stove and I will give detailed instructions for that below.
I don't know. I haven't tried it. I sent the leftovers with Jeff and his coworkers devoured it. I'm not sure how the lemon and egg sauce would freeze, but you could certainly freeze the meatballs and the chicken broth and then mix in fresh lemon and egg when reheating. Or you can make a smaller batch.
You can omit the rice to reduce the carbs by about 4.5 gms per serving. I haven't tried that, so let me know if you do!
What is Greek Meatball Soup?
Greek Meatball soup is called Youvarlakia, which I have also seen spelled Yuvarlakia and I've also seen it referred to as Giouvarlakia.
All the research I've done describes the same dish of seasoned meatballs cooked in water or a broth. You can make the meatballs with ground beef, veal, chicken, or pork. Or a combination of the ground meats.
It is a simple meatball that is flavored with herbs and spices and simmered in water or a broth. I'm sure it's good on its own, but it's magical when you add the lemon and egg sauce.
The avgolemono sauce (egg and lemon sauce) is a traditional Greek sauce that is used for many things and often used in Greek Meatball Soup to add creaminess and a burst of flavor. It also thickens the soup beautifully.
I can't stress enough how delicious this soup is, so even if you think the ingredients sound a little odd to you, try it! Just once. Jeff turned his nose up when I told him what I was making, he wasn't excited at all. Then, he tasted it and completely changed his mind! It's simply one of the easiests and best tasting comfort foods that I've ever had and at less than 300 calories per serving, there is zero guilt eating it!
Can I use a Different Ground Meat instead of Ground Beef?
Yes, you can. You can use any type of ground meat you like or try a combination of ground meats. Just keep in mind that a lot of the flavor comes from the fat in the ground beef, so when using something leaner, like turkey, you might want to add a little more seasonings to the meatballs.
I would also add in a tad bit more moisture if using a lean ground meat. You can do that by adding in an extra egg or even a bit of milk. Don't add too much though, you need the meatballs to stay together.
To help them not fall apart in the soup, refrigerate them for about an hour before cooking.
How do you Temper the Egg and Lemon sauce?
If you have never tempered a sauce before, don't let that stop you from making this lemon and egg sauce because it is so easy to do!
The idea behind tempering is that you bring the colder mixture closer to the temperature of the hot mixture. This is really important when stirring in an egg mixture when you don't want the eggs to cook.
In an egg drop soup, you want the eggs to cook so you don't temper, but in most sauces that have eggs in them, you want a smooth texture and clumps of cooked eggs are just not appealing.
For this soup, the tempering process is so simple. You simply ladle in about ½-¾ cup of the hot broth into the lemon, egg, and cornstarch mixture while stirring constantly. Then you repeat this 2 more times.
That is it. Then your sauce is ready to be added to the pot of soup. I add it in slowly and stir the soup constantly while adding the tempered lemon sauce.
If you see any of the egg forming strands, that means your sauce is not tempered enough. Don't worry, just stop adding it to the soup and add another ladle or two to the egg/lemon mixture and whisk.
Then slowly add it to the hot broth, stirring constantly.
You want to temper your lemon and egg sauce just before adding it to the soup so it is the right temperature.
Can I make Greek Meatball Soup on the Stove?
Absolutely! The process is pretty much the same, except you don't pressure cook.
Instead, add the meatballs to your broth in a stock pot on the stove and bring to a medium simmer. You don't want it boiling aggressively or your meatballs might fall apart.
You also might want to add in 1-2 cups more of water or chicken stock because there will be evaporation when cooking on the stove.
Simmer the soup for about 25 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender.
Then proceed with the rest of the instructions for finishing the soup.
Can I make Greek Meatball Soup in a Slow Cooker?
Sure! I haven't done this, so I'm not sure of exact timing and of course, different slow cookers cook at different times.
I would add in a total of 6 cups of chicken broth or water along with the meatballs and slow cook for 4-6 hours. If you wanted to reduce the temp to low, I would slow cook for 6-8 hours.
You can cut your carrots a little thicker and add at the beginning of the slow cook time if you like soft carrots. If you like them with a slight bite to them, then add halfway through the slow cook time.
Remove the meatballs and if your slow cooker has the sear sauté function, you can proceed with the instructions. If it doesn't, I would either remove the broth and add the tempered lemon/egg sauce on the stove OR add the tempered lemon and egg sauce and slow cook on high until thick, stirring occasionally.
How to Make Greek Meatball Soup in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker)
I always like to start with the prep first and the prep for this soup is so minimal, it is done in about 10-12 minutes!
Thinly slice the carrots into about ¼" slices. You want them thin so they cook quickly in the soup. Reserve them for later, do not add until after the PC time or they will become really soft.
If you like really soft carrots, cut them thicker and go ahead and add them in before pressure cooking.
Place the thawed ground beef in a medium to large mixing bowl. Chop up the mint, you want about 2 Tablespoons of fresh mint. There really isn't a substitution for the fresh mint, so grab some at the grocery store if you don't have any growing at home. Add the mint to the bowl.
Chop up the fresh oregano if you are using fresh and add to the bowl. You will want about 1 Tablespoon of fresh oregano. You can use dried oregano instead and you would use about 1 teaspoon.
Crack the egg into the bowl. Add the salt and pepper.
Finely chop the onion into ⅛-¼" dice. You want the onion in very small pieces so it mixes into the meatballs well. Add the onion to the bowl. Mince the garlic cloves and add to the meat mixture. Add in the ¼ cup of basmati rice.
Mix the ingredients in the bowl until everything is well incorporated. The best tool for the job is a pair of clean hands!
Next, add in 4 cups of chicken broth or water (I prefer the chicken stock) to the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi. Make your meatballs and add them to the pot.
I like to use the small scoop from Pampered Chef to form the meatballs, but you can make them any size you want. Try to keep them all the same size so they cook evenly. If you make them bigger, you will need to increase your PC time by a minute or so.
The meatballs I made were about the size of a quarter in diameter.
Once all the meatballs are added to the broth, put the lid on the Ninja Foodi or pressure cooker and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on LOW for 7 minutes.
You want the pressure on low for this soup because I'm afraid the meatballs might fall apart under high pressure. I didn't test the recipe with high pressure, but LOW works great!
After the 7 minutes of PC time, allow the pot to natural release for 5 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure.
I like to make up the lemon sauce (Avgolemomo) while the soup is pressure cooking. To do that, juice two lemons and add two eggs to a medium size mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Next add in 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch.
My bowl was too small when I started making the lemon sauce, so I had to switch out bowls. You need one big enough to allow you to whisk and add about 1½ cups of the hot broth.
I'm using cornstarch as a thickener to get the perfect consistency to the soup. I have made it without the cornstarch and used the blender to whip the eggs and lemon. The soup thickened nicely without the use of cornstarch, however, if you are simply whisking the eggs and lemon together by hand, I found that it did not thicken as well and the cornstarch was needed.
When the pressure cooking time is up, remove the lid. I like to remove the meatballs so they don't get broken up while cooking the carrots.
Add the thinly sliced carrots and turn the sear/sauté on high to start cooking those carrots. This only takes a few minutes.
Before adding the lemon/egg/cornstarch mixture we have to temper it.
How to temper the lemon sauce
It's easy, don't worry! Simply ladle in about ½-¾ cup of the hot broth into the egg/lemon/cornstarch mixture while stirring. Repeat that 3-4 times, making sure to stir or whisk between each addition and that is all you need to do to temper the mixture.
Here is a quick video showing me tempering the lemon sauce and adding it to the hot soup.
By bringing the temperature of the egg mixture closer to the temperature of the chicken stock, you will prevent the eggs from cooking.
Then, slowly pour in the lemon mixture into the soup while stirring constantly. If you see any egg strands starting to cook, then you didn't temper enough. Simply add more of the hot stock into the lemon mixture and stir. Don't add too much of the stock at once, about ½ cup at a time is good. Then start slowly pouring again.
Once all the lemon sauce is added to the soup, turn the heat down to medium and add your meatballs back in. The soup will thicken as the lemon sauce heats up. You can turn the heat on high, but I don't like to boil the soup, so I keep it at a medium heat. Stir gently while the soup is thickening. Once it's thickened enough, turn the heat off.
In my opinion, the perfect consistency for this soup is about the consistency of a creamy tomato soup.
Next add in a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach. I used about 2 cups. Stir the spinach in and the heat from the soup will wilt it.
Serve and Enjoy!
Greek Meatball Soup
- Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker
- 1 lb ground beef
- 4 sprigs mint about 2 Tablespoons
- 2 sprigs oregano about 1 Tablespoon
- 1 large egg
- ½ vidalia onion finely diced
- 1 tsp fine grind sea salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup basmati rice uncooked
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 batch meatballs
- 2 carrots optional
- 2 cups spinach optional
- 2 large eggs
- 2 lemons
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- Put the ground beef in a medium size mixing bowl. Chop the oregano and mint and add to the bowl. Finely dice the onion and add to the bowl. Crack the egg into the bowl. Add the salt, pepper, and minced garlic to the bowl. Add in the rice. Slice the carrots into ¼" slices and reserve for later.
- Mix the ground beef mixture really well and form the meatballs. I like to make mine about the size of a quarter in diameter. If you want your meatballs bigger, you may want to increase your pressure cook time by 1-2 minutes.
- Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi or your pressure cooker and add in the raw meatballs. Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Pressure cook on LOW for 7 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pot to natural release for 5 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure.
- While the meatballs are pressure cooking, make up the lemon sauce. Add 2 eggs to a medium mixing bowl. Juice the two lemons into the bowl and whisk to combine the eggs and lemon. Add the cornstarch and whisk to combine. Make sure there aren't any clumps of cornstarch.
- When the pin in the back drops, open the lid and remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon. I like to use the Scoop 'N Drain from Pampered Chef because it holds a lot of meatballs at once.
- Add in the sliced carrots and turn the Ninja Foodi on high Sear/Sauté to cook the carrots. This only takes about 5-10 minutes.
- Temper the egg and lemon mixture by adding a ladle full of the hot stock to the egg and lemon mixture and whisking. Repeat this 2-3 times, stirring in between each addition of stock.
- Slowly add the lemon and egg mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. As it cooks, the sauce will thicken. Turn the heat down to medium and stir until the soup reaches the desired consistency. I like it about the consistency of a creamy tomato soup.
- Return the meatballs to the soup and add in the spinach. Turn the Ninja Foodi off and stir in the spinach. The heat from the soup will cook the spinach perfectly.
- Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.