Tempered Meatball Soup (Sulu Kofte)

Never ending rain… Exceptionally cool weather for August in South Carolina… Getting my light sweater out to go for a walk in the evening…What  is happening here?

Well, somehow Weather Gods changed their mind about the summer in SC this year and we are having wonderful temperatures however I am pretty sure farmers are not happy about this nonstop rain we are having.


Rain got me in the mood for fall. We kept having soup for dinner for a while. It just felt right. Sometimes, I really crave for lemony light soups and this tempered meatball soup , a typical Turkish dish known as “sulu kofte”, gave me the fall enjoyment for a couple of nights. Sulu kofte literally means watery meatballs.  The meatballs are supposed to be really small , a bit bigger than a chickpea but it is hard to roll them that small sometimes. So just try to keep them to a one-bite-size as much as you can.

Tempering the egg yolk with lemon juice for soup can be something new for some of you. It is a method that shows up in many Turkish soups and really brightens the color and the taste with the tangy kick from the lemon, making it suitable for cold remedy in my book. Pay attention not to boil the soup after you add the egg yolk mixture or while reheating since you will run the risk of curdling the egg.


If you are not ready to try or don’t like the idea of egg yolk, you can do this soup tomato-based. Grate some big, ripe tomatoes and add right after you saute the diced onions, give it a stir several times, then add water (maybe first less water than what it calls for). You can add a tablespoon of tomato or red pepper paste to the grated tomatoes or crushed tomatoes to deepen the color if you want. Feel free to substitute the chickpeas for any beans you like as well.

Now the fall can not come soon enough!

Afiyet Olsun!


Tempered Meatball Soup (Sulu Kofte)

  • 300 gr ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of fine bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons of warm water
  • 2 tablespoon grated, drained yellow onion
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry chickpeas or 1 can (about 15 oz) of chickpeas (if using dry, soak them overnight, then boil until they are tender next morning)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of dry mint
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • More Aleppo pepper or crushed pepper (optional)
  • 6 cups (more or less) water

1. Pour 2 tablespoon of hot water over bulgur, let it soak for 15 minutes.

2. In a shallow big pan, spread the flour.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine ground beef, soaked bulgur, egg, onion and spices and knead until it comes together.  Take small pieces, more or less the size of chickpeas or a bit bigger and roll them into a ball. Place them on the floured pan.

4. Shake the pan several times to cover all the meatballs with flour. Sprinkle flour over them if necessary.

5. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot and add diced onion. Stirring , cook it for about two minutes. Take care not to burn it. It should just turn translucent.

6. Add water, chickpeas to the pot and bring it to a boil. Carefully add the meatballs, shaking off the excess flour. If you need to add more water so it is more soupy, so at this time and wait for it to come to a boil again. Bring the heat down to a simmer. Add mint, salt, and Aleppo pepper.

7. After chickpeas and meatballs are cooked, whisk egg yolk with lemon juice in a small bowl. Add one or two tablespoons of hot water from the pot to the egg mixture, continue whisking. This gradual addition prevents curdling. Add one or two more tablespoons of hot water from the pot at a time and whisk. Once you have about 1/3 cup of egg mixture, start adding the tempered egg mixture to the pot one or two tablespoon at a time and stir the contents of the pot after each addition. Adjust the spices if necessary.

8. After this point, never bring it to a rolling boil even for reheating. Always reheat simmering gently.


  1. by Gokce
    8:28 am
    Aug 24, 2013

    As usual – yummy!

  2. by Ozlem's Turkish Table
    11:03 am
    Aug 24, 2013

    Delicious, delicious sulu kofte Ilke, eline saglik! We have rain in England at the moment too, this soup maybe just what the dr ordered!:) selamlar, Ozlem

  3. by lizamryan
    1:47 pm
    Aug 24, 2013

    Sounds delicious-cannot wait to try the Tempered Meatball Soup! Thanks for posting!

  4. by Terra
    8:57 pm
    Aug 24, 2013

    This weather has been crazy. Someone told me there was like 45 days of temps over 90. This year we have had something 13 days….crazy!!! This soup reminds me of the Mexican soup called Albondigas (might be spelled wrong.) Your recipe looks hearty, full of flavor, and perfect on a cool day! Hugs, Terra

  5. by Angie@Angie's Recipes
    3:09 am
    Aug 25, 2013

    The weather here isn’t beautiful either..cloudy and rainy…I am not ready yet for the autumn…but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy a good comfort soup like this…simply irresistible!

  6. by john@kitchenriffs
    1:16 pm
    Aug 25, 2013

    I love soup! I haven’t had this one before, and it looks great – I do need to try it. It’s gotten hot here again, and we haven’t had rain in ages (it’s been raining all around us, though; just not where I live). I enjoy summer, but I’m looking forward to fall – that means it’s soup weather!

  7. by Susan
    7:50 pm
    Aug 28, 2013

    I’ve heard it has been a very rainy summer in the south! This soup looks delicious and a perfect way to chase away the dampness. The sound of the lemon and egg yolk is so interesting!

  8. by Mrs Ergül
    5:21 am
    Aug 30, 2013

    I believe this is the same soup that I helped roll the meatballs in the village of Luleburgaz! We did it really tiny, like a dried chickpea. But that is only doable when there are helping hands around. I can imagine it must take forever for me to do it myself!

    The weather around here is pretty cool today too and this soup would work just fine! Yours look awesome! Love the soup bowl you served it in too!

  9. by rebecca
    10:30 pm
    Aug 31, 2013

    looks wonderful must try it ;-) tad scared of adding the egg though

  10. by A Cat From London
    5:57 am
    Sep 6, 2013

    My favorite childhood meal (cooked by granma):) . It looks delicious, ellerine sağlık.

  11. by Dana
    9:50 pm
    Sep 16, 2013

    Made these tonight! Very good and easy to make. I did add some red pepper paste for color and to kick it up a bit. Thank you for this recipe

  12. by Lily
    3:58 pm
    Sep 25, 2013

    Hey Ilke I found you! Love your website :) I’m going to try some of your recipes once I have time to cook again!

  13. by Turkey's For Life
    2:14 am
    Oct 3, 2013

    I love this dish but have never tried to make it myself before. Yours looks really tempting…can see me messing up that egg yolk bit…might be brace and give it a go, though. :)

  14. by Valentina
    9:10 am
    Oct 21, 2013

    I’m always ready for fall! This looks divine!

  15. by Ilke
    7:46 am
    Oct 22, 2013

    Thanks Valentina :)

  16. by Erica
    8:44 am
    Nov 9, 2013

    My family loves this soup…..I learned this soup from my sister in law Muge…and it has become a favourite in my family. Especially on those cold days, but I must admit I do make it in summer also. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  17. by Ilke
    8:49 am
    Nov 9, 2013

    Thank you Erica..We love it too! Cold weather makes it easier to enjoy definitely :)

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