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Köfte soup (Sulu köfte)

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

There is a version of Sulu köfte in every street and village of Turkey, sometimes thick and stew-like with potatoes and vegetables, and sometimes light with yogurt or an egg broth as in this case. The best ones are had from small street vendors who have been simmering this soup into a delicious broth from morning, rich and filled with mini-meatballs. This version is a more contemporary version and lighter for the summer months. The meatballs are filled with rice that cooks in the soup adding the starch to the broth. In addition, the meatballs are added raw, they cook in the slowly simmering broth, this process makes them soft and juicy. Finally, the chef flavors the soup with eggs and lemon juice, making the broth rich and adding that final touch of excellence. The process of adding the eggs to thicken the soup broth is seen across the mediterranean, Greek avgolemono, and Italian stracciatella, is not too difficult to make. The goal is to never see the eggs but have them whipped so fine that they make the soup cloudy. You are not looking for stringy eggs in the broth, as in the Chinese egg drop soup, but a clear broth. This is done by continuous whisking of the eggs, almost like emulsifing them, with hot broth first, and them adding the warm liquid to the soup while whisking continuously again.

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For the köfte:

1 lb ground beef or lamb

1/2 onion, grated or puréed

2 1/2 tablespoons long grain rice

2 tablespoons parsley, finely minced

Salt and pepper to taste

For the soup:

2 tablespoons oil

1 carrot, finely diced

1/2 onion, finely minced

Water to cover the meatballs

2-3 scallions, finely sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika or chili flakes to taste

For the egg-lemon sauce

1 egg, whisked

Juice from 1 lemon or lime

Make the meatballs by combining all the ingredients for the meatballs and mixing well, hands work best. Make small golf ball sized meatballs. Set aside. You can make a teaspoon sized patty and fry it in a pan as a taster. Adjust salt and herbs as needed.

In a deep pot, large enough to also contain the meatballs later, heat the oil and add the carrots, onions and salt. Sauté on low heat till the onions are very soft but not colored, adding the salt helps. Add the water and bring to a fast simmer. Add the meat balls in gently distributing them around the pot so they are all submerged. Add the scallions and bring the stock back to a gentle simmer. Do NOT stir the soup till the meatballs have cooked and the outside is firm, about 5 minutes. Stir gently once and simmer gently, covered and untouched for 30 minutes. Taste and make sure the rice is cooked.

Whisk the egg and lemon/lime juice well. Add a ladle of the hot stock from the soup into the bowl with the eggs slowly in a drizzle, continuously whisking the eggs. Add a second ladle of heated stock in the same way. The egg mixture should be quite warm now. Add the egg mixture to the simmering soup in a thin stream while you continuously stir the soup. Mix in well to get a cloudy broth without any stringy egg pieces. Simmer for 2 minutes gently to cook the eggs, all the white stirring the soup gently.

Serve immediately sprinkled with black pepper or paprika and some pita bread.

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