“Youvarlakia” soup with meat dumplings & yogurt

“Youvarlakia” soup with meat dumplings & yogurt

Youvarlakia is a traditional Greek soup featuring meat dumplings with rice and an “avgolemono” (egg and lemon) sauce. I had never tasted them growing up in Greece, since my expat Irish mom didn’t even know them. As I have no childhood memories, I felt quite free to completely overhaul the recipe for a fresher, lighter result. Ironically my kids do know this version of the soup well as it is an ideal weaning food for the family table.

Yogurt instead of avgolemono in this recipe complements the lamb and is much easier to heat up if needed without the danger curdling as the traditional sauce is infamous for. Yearling lamb was used in this recipe originally, though many modern household have switched to beef. With the lamb the dumplings become particularly tender and soft. Replacing the rice with cauliflower gives makes them light and much more nutritious. Especially for toddlers, we want every bite to count, full of taste and nourishment. Why not for us too?

For the dumplings

  • 500 gr. yearling lamb (zygouri) minced
  • 120 gr. cauliflower
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint, dried
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 liters of homemade broth
  • 1 bay leaf

For the sauce

  • 200 gr. Greek Strained yogurt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsps dill

Pulse the cauliflower in the food processor into rice-sized pieces. In a large bowl mix together the minced meat, cauliflower rice, onion, garlic, dill, mint, lemon zest, egg and season. Lightly knead to bring the mixture together.

Heat the broth and bay leaf in a large pot. Shape the meat mixture into small dumplings, add them to the broth and bring to the boil. Immediately lower the heat, cover and allow to gently simmer for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, in a flameproof bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice and dill together. Once the dumplings are done, add some of the cooking broth from the pot to the sauce to thin, then add back to the pot. Shake the pot a little to distribute evenly to avoid stirring and breaking up the dumplings. Serve hot with a little lemon zest and dill.

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