Holland's cuisine knows many soups, from the sturdy thick split pea soup to a brothy, light, appetite-arousing groentesoep, or vegetable soup. A standard item in groentesoep are, besides the vegetables, these so-called soup balls, or soepballetjes. Not the big softball-size meatballs, or gehaktballen, that the Dutch serve for dinner, but bitesize balls the size of marbles.
The meat used for these fleshy globes is "half-om-half", half pork and half beef. The fattiness of the pork makes sure that the meatballs stay juicy and tender, and the beef adds body and flavor.
Omas, or grandmas, usually had a "pannetje soep" (pan of soup) on the back of the stove, simmering, and many of us associate soup with Sunday afternoon visits to grandma's house. Soup is still a favorite starter for an evening meal or a Sunday lunch, and an easy and affordable dish to feed a family with.
Select a variety of chopped vegetables (typical Dutch soup vegetables are leeks, cauliflower, carrots and celery) or, if you're in a pinch, even a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables will do.
Vegetable soup with meatballs (Groentesoep met balletjes)
- 150 grams (5.3 oz) ground pork
- 150 grams (5.3 oz) ground beef
- 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 liter (34 fl oz) bouillon
- 200 grams (7 oz) soup vegetables
Mix the meats with the breadcrumbs, the salt, pepper and nutmeg until well blended. Roll small meatballs the size of a marble.
In the meantime, heat the bouillon to a slow boil. Add the fresh vegetables and simmer for a good twenty minutes. Put several soepballetjes at a time in the bouillon, wait ten seconds, then add some more, until they're all in the soup. The meatballs are done when they start to float, within a minute or two.