We don’t know about you, but we’re supposed to be having spring like weather here in Canada. It seems that someone didn’t get the message. In the span of a few hours this afternoon we experienced a tiny bit of sun, snow, hail and rain. What ever happened to April showers bringing May flowers? Hail is not showers!
Since we can’t control the weather (we have tried, promise!), we can at least control how we live with it. Our winter coats are still accessible, as are our boots and hats. We’ve kept the salt out for de-icing the driveway and our beds are still incredible cozy with our woollen blankets and duvets. And in the kitchen, we’ve been leaning towards winter weather food, comforting for body and soul…like this deliciously soothing yiouverlakia soup flavoured with avgolemono and tomato. Bring it on April…we can take you! Actually, we’re just kidding…we can hardly take this anymore! We are dreaming of spring, and salads!
Our parents use Carolina rice in these yiouvarlakia, and we have discovered that in some parts of the world, and Montreal, this rice is hard to find. If you are having trouble tracking it down, simply use another long grain rice.
You will see that the meat mixture, once all of the ingredients are combined, is somewhat wet. This is the way it should be. When shaping your yiouvarlakia, be sure to first press the meat mixture together so that it holds it’s shape well when you roll it in your hands. Then, you will roll each yiouvarlaki in some flour. This will help keep them together, and has the added bonus of thickening up your broth a bit.
Our parents like to add about a tablespoon of raw rice into the water in which the yiouvarlakia will cook. They maintain that this too helps to thicken up the soup base. Is this really necessary? We’re not sure, but it’s kind of a neat step…so just do it. 🙂
The easiest way to see if your yiouvarlakia are ready is to check one. Cut it open to be sure that the meat has cooked through (there should be no pink visible) and then taste a grain of rice; the rice should be fully cooked.
A key ingredient in this recipe is of course, the lemons. Use the freshest lemons you can find and try to avoid using bottled lemon juice unless you are certain that it is not diluted with water. Even still, there is nothing like the smell of fresh lemons. The quantity of lemon juice that our parents use will give you a tart, but not overly tart soup. If you want your avgolemono to taste more lemony, adjust the quantity of lemon juice. You can also add a squeeze of lemon to each individual serving plate if tastes differ around the table.
Another key ingredient is the tomato juice or sauce, and this is really the only difference between these yiouverlakia and the yiouverlakia with avgolemono alone (that is, no tomato) which we have previously shared. Our parents always like to use their homemade tomato sauce, and you can to if you have followed their recipe and made some. Otherwise, you can use a good quality tomato juice or sauce that you have purchased.
You will see that the directions for the avgolemono sauce below instruct you to remove some of the broth, set it aside to cool, and then add it slowly to the beaten eggs and lemon. This is a critical step because if you add the beaten eggs directly into the very hot soup you risk having your eggs curdle.As we described when we posted avgolemono soup, the addition of the egg lemon sauce is a bit ritualistic in our family (and from the feedback we have received, many other families too!). Whenever we watched our parents add avgolemono to their pot of soup, (or lahanodolmades, or yiouvarlakia) we would listen with great anticipation. That’s right…we would listen. You see, as they pour, they let out a long, drawn out kiss, right into the air. When we were young they would explain that this was a crucial step, one that would ensure that the meal would turn out delicious. When we first made avgolemono soup with them for Mia Kouppa, and were recording the recipe and steps for posting on the blog, we talked about this air smooch. Our parents laughed and told us that this was really just silliness, an old wives tale not meant to be taken seriously. But then, almost as though they couldn’t help themselves, they proceeded to kiss the air when finishing up our soup, and it was delicious. Do you need to kiss the air when you add the avgolemono to your pot of yiouvarlakia? Probably
not, but who knows!
Although a hearty (and healthy) meal, yiouvarlakia are delicate. Don’t stir them too much in the pot, and plate them with a small serving spoon which will allow you to pick up one or two at a time. You can then add the broth and avgolemono over top; this is the easiest way to keep you lovely rice studded meatballs intact.
Mia Kouppa: Yiouverlakia avgolemono and tomato
- 225 grams ground pork
- 225 grams ground veal
- 1 medium onion, grated (about 6 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) flour
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon (7 ml) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) Carolina rice, or another long grain rice
- 1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour, for coating the youverlakia
- 6 cups (1,500 ml) water
- 3/4 cup (120 ml) tomato juice or sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Greek olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Carolina rice, or another long grain rice For the avgolemono:
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a large bowl combine the ground pork and veal, the grated onion, parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil, one beaten egg, 1 tablespoon flour, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup rice, which you should rinse first. Allow the meat mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours in the refrigerator.
- Prepare your yiouvarlakia. Take about one tablespoon of the mixture and form a compact ball. Roll it in the flour to coat it lightly and set aside. Continue until all the meat mixture is used.
- In a large pot combine 6 cups water, 3/4 cup tomato juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon of rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently add the yiouvarlakia. Cook, covered, for about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and, if your soup does not seem to have much liquid in it, add about 1/2 to 1 cup of boiling water. Remove 1 cup of stock and set aside. Immediately start making your avgolemono.
- Separate eggs. Using a hand held mixer, or a fork, beat egg whites until frothy (you will NOT create soft peaks…that’s okay). Once the egg whites are frothy and foamy, add the egg yolks. Continue beating. Then, add the lemon juice. Beat together until combined and then slowly stream in the cup of stock that you had set aside, and which should have cooled so that it is warm but not hot. Continue to beat the egg / lemon mixture until all of the stock has been incorporated.
- Take this egg / lemon mixture and pour it slowly into the soup, stirring well, but being careful not to break apart your yiouvarlakia. It may be easier to shake your pot gently.
- Serve immediately Enjoy.