Friday, September 26, 2008

Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)

When I saw this meatball soup from Peter of Souvlaki for the Soul, I was intrigued and I wanted to try it.

It turned out that TS had the same idea.

"You know that soup from Peter G?"
"Let's try it."

Most of all, I loved the fact that this was a soup made with water, not stock. I finally felt validated when I read Mark Bittman and Michael Ruhlman endorsing -- well, I guess not quite endorsing -- but telling us that it is okay to use water in some dishes (instead of using much disliked store-bought stock).

We had some ground pork in the house, but we couldn't seem to find the right insertion point for the soup. Last two weeks, for some reason, we actually mustered up enough energy to prepare semi-complete meals (that is, enough food) for every single day of those two weeks.

When we finally had the opportunity a few days ago, the ground pork was all gone. (It was made into CSC's ever-popular dumplings.)

After our weekly Saturday grocery run, ground pork was replenished. I wanted to try the soup with pork-beef meatballs, but come Sunday, I was too lazy to head out again for some ground beef.

We would have to make our version of giouvarlakia with just ground pork.

A bad photo post

A-ya! Such bad photos! We made this soup at night. We have no light source!

Anyway, I started by putting a pot of water to boil.

For the meatballs, I buzzed onions, parsley and dill in the food processor and mixed that with ground pork, eggs, olive oil and uncooked rice. Seasoned with salt and pepper too, of course.

To speed things up, I took the pot of boiling water off the stove and placed it beside my workspace. I rolled each meatball in flour and straight into the pot each went.

Then, back to the stove to boil and simmer.

It looked a little scary at first (see above), but don't worry!

When the meatballs were cooked, I added avgolemono to the pot: I beat a couple of eggs with lemon juice, then tempered that first with some of the hot soup before adding the whole mixture to the pot.

I think we have some Greek in us, because the meatballs really, really tasted familiar. It must be the onions and the rice. Because we used just ground pork for the meatballs, the soup was very mild-tasting, almost milky, so the lemon in the avgolemono added such a welcome high note to the soup. I couldn't stop sipping and sipping and sipping. . .

. . .until it was all gone.

The complete recipe is here: Giouvarlakia from Souvlaki for the Soul

On a photography note, HELP!

The darktimes have descended. We now have no light source, as it gets dark early (3pm or so). Any lighting/photography tips for taking pictures indoors?

Or I should say, any cheap-cheap-cheap tips that we can use?

We need all the help we can get! (As demonstrated by the horrendous photos herein.) Help us! Thanks in advance!

eatingclub vancouver Greek
"Greek" Calamari
Simple Greek Meal
Caper Salad
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Marinated Feta
Greek Shrimp with Feta
Greek Ribs with Tzatziki
Mushroom Ragu Pastitsio
Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)
Zucchini Ribbons Salad with Anchovy Dressing
Souvlaki (Pork and Chicken)
Tomato Bread Salad, Greek-style
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)

We're submitting this to Regional Recipes, a blogging event created by Blazing Hot Wok that celebrates food from all over the world.

Blazing Hot WokThe inaugural event is hosted by Darlene herself! The region is Greece.

Regional Recipes information

Our Regional Recipes posts:
Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia)
Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Thai Fried Chicken
Roast Pork Belly with Puy Lentils
Beef "Ribbon" Kebab (Pasanda Kabab) with Cilantro Chutney
Canadian Onion Soup with Oka Cheese
Börek with Beef Filling
Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Pork Jowl (Pork Cheeks) with Brown Sugar Rub
Beef Salpicao
Cuban Arroz con Salchichas (Yellow Rice with Vienna Sausages)
Cuban Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Pastries)
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Cha Gio)
Grilled Fish Fillet on Oregano
Pastéli (Greek Sesame Snaps)


  1. I'm so gad you made these! Admittedly they do look a little scary when cooking but it all works well in the end. Nicely done!

  2. I made a soft light box - not softbox - by using white cardboard paper, muslin cloth and a light bulb. I made two actually. Until I broke one. I am using the other one still. Works great. If you want, I can show you the photo. Or you can visit Darren Rowse' Digital Photography School. He has a post on how to make your own soft box. Mine cost USD 12.

  3. this sounds delicious! i have never tried a greek dish before. honestly, i'll definitely try this one of these days

  4. I'm more familiar with the Chinese meatball soup! This looks like meatball in cream-based soup....and sounds delicious.

  5. Don't worry - those were great pics and looks like a really tasty soup!


  6. This dish sounds so delicious!! As far as lighting for photos, I am dealing with the exact same thing. Don't know what I am gonna do when it gets dark early.

  7. It's not the easiest soup to photograph but yours turn out real good.

    It's one on my favourite soups and it does eat like a meal.

  8. I think you are turning Greek with your last two posts.
    I'm starting to have the same issue with lighting. I'm planning on building a light box but my husband says a desk lamp with a Revel lightbulb in it is really all I need.

  9. Looks great, I never had Greek dish before. I'm facing the same lighting problem too.

  10. I can't even imagine it getting dark at 3PM. I have been so frustrated with the light going at 6PM here. I just got the Lowel EGO light which is a little less than $100 after shipping is included, but I love it and think it will come in handy for weekdays when I am never home before 6:30/7. The soup looks good and filling.

  11. Peter:
    It was delicious! Next time we're going to do it with beef (or mix) -- I do love my beef broth. Thanks for the recipe!

    Thanks! We're looking it up now as I type.

    Dhanggit / Little Corner:
    For some reason we seem to have an affinity gor Greek food! Well, what we've tried so far. The whole family, even!

    Although, it tastes familiar and homey... not quite Chinese but sort of? =)

    CECIL / Kat:
    I know, the darktimes! The darktimes! Starting to look into these lighting things (which are so foreign to us!). What's a Revel lightbulb? I gues those "sunlight" equivalent ones?

    Peter M:
    Hehe, I added some more cooked rice in mine to make it *EVEN* more hearty! =)

    Wah, we're kind of still a little too cheap for that. But, if we get so frustrated, then we may just spring for one.

  12. I LOVE this place! Can I get a reservation? Can I eat here? Hmm?? I don't know anything about photography in the dark (except: don't do it; I mean, I use a cell phone for goodness sake) But I am lad the soup was yummy and eaten all up.

  13. Oh, dear.
    I saw these over at Peter's and they looked fabulous. Seeing them again is giving me a craving.

    Love Greek food.
    And meatballs.

  14. Sounds delicious. Love those Greek recipes. Lighting is tough at night!!

  15. The photos may not have been perfect, but they perfectly conveyed that tastiness of your soup.

    Have you though of getting a light box? I googled it and found this:

  16. Oh awesome! The first entry for Regional Recipes, and a it looks great. I think this would be perfect for chilly autumn weather. But does it really get dark so soon??

    I don't know what kind of camera you have, but if it a little more advanced than a point-and-shoot, and you are using the manual settings, I'd get a tripod. It doesnt' have to be anything fancy. just one that can support the weight of the camera. there's really no way to keep the camera steady long enough to allow for a long enough exposure in low light, even if your lens has vibration reduction. My kitchen gets terrible light and I've had to do 3+ seconds at f8 just to get a decent picture. But with a tripod, you could literally have very low light and still get a decent picture. Hope that helps.

  17. lori:
    We're looking into that now. Soon enough we'll actually get into gear and make it! Thanks!

    eptember 27, 2008 7:56 AM

    We were excited when we saw that GREECE was the theme. I had just bookmarked both the Caper Salad and this soup!

    re tripod: Ah, I see. I only have a vague notion of what you're suggesting. (That is, I sort of get it but I need to look into it more.) I do know that for slow exposures the camera has to be really still, or else the picture will have the motion. (Don't know how to describe it in photography terms.)

    I just have a point-and-shoot, but I bekieve it has a variety of manual settings. I had just looked for the manual and am now starting to read it. (Wow, actual reading of the manual!)


  18. That soup looks so comforting.

    As for photo tips, 90% of the photos on my site were taken indoors at night and I have no proper photographic lights, light tent etc etc - just to give you an idea of what can be done!!

    Step 1, unless you have a very good camera, is to buy a tripod. Just get a little tabletop one - nothing fancy.

    Next question is whether you have a camera where you can adjust the shutter speed or aperture (I know on my Canon compact you can - it's the Av and Tv icons on the control dial - lots of compacts have that feature). If you can control them, play with aperture (Av) rather than shutter speed which is more of a gamble. Set the Av to the smallest number your camera will allow (mine does 2.8 - the lower the number the better your camera will perform in low light). Then set up the camera on the tripod, compose and shoot. Set it to self-timer to minimise shaking from pressing the shutter.

    If your camera is really basic, I guess you'd have to turn on all the lights in the room, deactivate the flash, and shoot with it on the tripod, hoping for the best - but this is a gamble!!

    Jugalbandi had a great tutorial on how to make cheap lighting for shots, but even a tiny halogen desklight with an adjustable head from IKEA, and a sheet of tracing paper to diffuse the light, will improve matters.

    If your camera has adjustable white balance (again, my Canon compact does), then be sure to set it to incandescent bulbs when shooting under artificial light to get rid of thet yellow cast.

    If you lack light AND a white balance setting, the only other thing you can do is make best friends with Photoshop to fix colour casts post-shooting :)

  19. jeanne:
    Thanks! I'm in the process of reading the manual for our camera and soon will be fiddling with it. (It's a point and shoot, Canon Elph, I think.) I'll try out what you described. Thanks!

  20. This soup looks delish. So they have congee in Greece!


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