Recipes

braised ginger meatballs in coconut broth

I’ve become the kind of person (a grandmother, perhaps; you can say it) who always implores you to stay for dinner. But it’s less benevolent than it sounds. I mean, yes, absolutely I’d love your company and not just because it will provide a welcome break from our usual dinner conversations of “Please take a bite. Of anything.” “No, I promise, that’s not a parsley fleck.” Or “But you liked roasted carrots last week!” And not just because I’ve found it takes 47 group texts to make dinner plans but if I say “just swing by at 6,” the answer is far more often a simple “Yes!” Not just because it’s part of my ongoing ulterior agenda to make entertaining less fussy — nobody is imagining you’d bring out a tray of hor d’oeuvres on a Tuesday night, thus nobody has to be disappointed that that will literally never happen — and therefore a more frequent thing in our lives. And not just because once you’re already making dinner, accounting for a serving or two extra is barely a hurdle.

Or, it’s not exclusively for these reasons. Mostly, I find it makes weeknight cooking more fun. I usually use it as an excuse to try something new that is maybe a step more effort than I’d usually put in, not entirely sure my family will receive it with the standing ovation and outpouring of gratitude that I believe each and every one of my cooking efforts are owed. (I’m kidding. Probably.)

ginger-garlic meatballsginger-garlic meatballscouldn't find my microplanebroth assembly

It’s one of these evenings a couple years ago that led me to this soup. It seemed to have an element for everyone. Meatballs go over well with both kids and adults, keep well (when dinner isn’t going to start on time), and warm up well when there are leftovers. The broth is rich and quick; no bag of food scraps or chicken bones required. We served it with rice on the side, so that people who wanted to could add as much as they wanted (ahem, kids) and people who were not eating rice could skip it and still have a great soup. I couldn’t find lemongrass that day and added some spinach instead, but ended up keeping the spinach in in later rounds. We served it with lightly pickled red chiles, fresh mint and cilantro, and a lot of lime on the side and it was so good, I’ve made it many times since.

broth assembly
cooked

How rude of me to hold out on you, then. I’d hoped to give it more context, but didn’t get terribly far. The flavors here are reminiscent of a Thai green curry — green curry paste often includes chiles chiles, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, makrut lime, and cilantro — but also a jok, if the rice was cooked long enough to get porrige-y. Eggs might be added too. In reality, it’s more of a simplified mash-up of all of the above, and it’s wildly delicious. I hope you love it too.

ginger-garlic meatballs in coconut broth

Previously

One year ago: Triple Coconut Cream Pie
Two years ago: Pistachio Cake and A Reall Great Pot of Chickpeas
Three years ago: Potato Pizza, Even Better, Carrot Tahini Muffins and Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka
Four years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Soda Syrup, Artichoke Gratin Toasts and Maple Pudding Cake
Five years ago: Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon
Six years ago: Ramp Pizza and Yogurt Panna Cotta with Walnuts and Honey
Seven years ago: Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe, Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches and Cinnamon Toast French Toast
Eight years ago: Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll and Crispy Potato Roast
Nine years ago: Tangy Spiced Brisket
Ten years ago: Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper and Buttermilk Ice Cream
Eleven years ago: Fork-Crushed Purple Potatoes, Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, and Caramelized Shallots
Twelve years ago: Black Bean Confetti Salad and Margarita Cookies and Tequila Lime Chicken

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Candy Pork and Sunken Black Forest Cake
1.5 Years Ago: Sausage and Potato Roast with Arugula and Bakery-Style Butter Cookies, Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
2.5 Years Ago: Russian Honey Cake, Pumpkin Bread, and Winter Squash Pancakes with Crispy Sage and Brown Butter
3.5 Years Ago: The Broccoli Roast and Salted Peanut Butter Cookies
4.5 Years Ago: Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil and Homemade Harissa

Braised Ginger Meatballs in Coconut Broth

I’ve made these before with a mixture of chicken and pork and it works just fine. If you can find it, one stalk of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and cut into 1-inch lengths, is a great addition here; add it with the ginger and garlic to the broth and remove it at the same time. I always add a bit of greens to this recipe. Baby spinach is the quickest. Since it’s May, thinly sliced asparagus or trimmed asparagus in 1-inch segments would be wonderful. Add chiles to taste; two are called for. I often just put a few slices in (because: kids), and then marinate the rest in a little vinegar, setting them out to be spooned on top by those who want more heat.

    Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Broth
  • One 13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh red chiles, thinly sliced, plus extra for serving (see Note)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • A few handfuls of baby spinach
  • To serve
  • Roughly chopped fresh mint and cilantro leaves
  • Additional lime wedges
  • Steamed jasmine rice (I estimate about 1/4 cup cooked per serving)

Make the meatballs: Preheat your oven to 425°. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl; I like to do so with a fork or potato masher. Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs (I used this scoop) and arrange them on a large rimmed baking sheet about 
1-inch apart. Bake until the meatballs are golden brown and just cooked through, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the broth: In a large, ideally wide, saucepan, combine the coconut milk, stock, ginger, garlic, chiles (to taste), lime zest and juice, fish sauce, turmeric, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat so the broth is simmering. Simmer 10 minutes, until the flavors are infused into the broth. You can leave everything in, but I like to remove everything with a skimmer for a smooth broth. Season to taste, if needed, with salt. 
Add the meatballs to the broth, return to a simmer, cover, and simmer until cooked through and tender, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Add spinach and cook just to wilt. Season the broth with more sugar, salt and lime juice if necessary. Serve with herbs, additional chiles, lime wedges, and rice.

Do Ahead: The uncooked meatballs can be refrigerated on a baking sheet for up to one day. The broth can also be prepared in advanced; it will keep for three days.

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148 comments on braised ginger meatballs in coconut broth

  1. Susan

    I love Brigid Schulte’s book “Overwhelmed” where she talks about a group of friends in Denmark who have a rotating spaghetti and ketchup night where everyone is only allowed to serve spaghetti and ketchup so they can focus on spending time with each other instead of getting a fancy meal/clean house/well-dressed children all ready for guests. This recipe sounds much tastier than spaghetti and ketchup but either way I’m 100% in favor of low-key dinner hosting.

  2. kelly

    thank you for using the term ‘makrut’ instead of what the type of lime has been otherwise commonly referred to. I look forward to trying this recipe!

    1. Maro

      thanks for making me look that up — i had no idea. i’m also so disappointed, and utterly un-surprised, at the number of negative comments in the article I read on why to use Makrut instead. people really just choose to be horrible.

    2. LKC

      This looks so good but I don’t eat pork. Do you think it would work with just ground chicken or just ground turkey?

  3. BeachGirl

    This sounds so good! It’s still a little raw outside and this is perfect! I need to de-egg and de-gluten the meatballs. If anyone does this I’d like to hear how it goes!

    1. I make meatballs all the time without eggs or breadcrumbs. Just keep everything else the same, except perhaps reduce the salt a bit and you should be fine.

    2. I use ground oats all the time in meatballs to deglutenize them for my husband. I usually measure the oats in a one to one ratio with the recipe and then grind them up.

    3. Amyo

      Bizarrely, the liquid in a can of chickpeas is a great substitute for egg – it’s called Aquafaba. Just use three tablespoons liquid to equal one egg. I used it for this recipe (i have a little one who is severely allergic to egg) and I actually only needed the equivalent of one egg, so three tablespoons. Worked perfectly!

    4. Cindy B.

      I don’t know where you live, but in New York they have gluten free breadcrumbs that I buy pretty frequently (I’m not G-free but my friend is and she comes to us for all of the major holidays). You can also take some gluten free bread cut it into cubes, toast it, and then put it in the food processor to make crumbs.

    5. Coriander

      If only you same folks would pipe up about some of Deb’s delicious-looking baked goods and making them gluten/egg/dairy-free! Have you successfully replaced this trio in any of her other recipes?

      1. Libby

        It’s a lot harder to make these replacements in baking recipes where the flour/egg/dairy is much more central to the recipe. I always recommend starting from a recipe that’s already gluten-free/vegan rather than trying to convert a recipe to gluten-free/vegan (check out
        Minimalistbaker.com for tons of good recipes). There are some good gluten-free all-purpose flour blends out there, like Cup 4 Cup, which I would recommend over substituting with just almond flour, rice flour, etc. Aquafaba or a flax egg can be used as an egg substitute, or in some cake recipes you can even use apple sauce or mashed ripe banana. You just have to take into account that all of these might change the flavor. As for dairy, you can sometimes easily substitute vegan options like earth balance for butter, non-dairy milks like almond milk for milk (add some vinegar to sub for buttermilk), and coconut cream is great for buttercream/whipped cream substitutes. Just don’t expect anything to come out exactly the same when you make these substitutions because baking is chemistry and flour, eggs, and dairy are all used for a reason!

        1. Coriander

          Thank you, Libby. I have some experience with changing up recipes to exclude gluten, eggs, and dairy, but it sure is nice to have input from others that have experimented with particular recipes and come up with the best combinations for same. Have you used aquafaba as an egg substitute yourself?

  4. I can totally relate to your “usual dinner conversations” and have noted that my kids mostly refrain from all the negative comments about what they don’t like when guests are at the table. And they may even be more willing to try adventurous foods (everybody else is doing it, after all.) Good reasons to have company more often, I have also concluded.

    1. eclecticdeb

      While fish sauce does smell pretty pungent, when used sparingly it gives an extra “oomph” to dishes like this. I’d recommend start with 1/3-1/2 of the amount, then add more if you feel like it tastes a little flat.

  5. llaney

    Do you make chicken stock with the Better Than Bouillion in the photo? I have thought about doing that but am always concerned about the sodium/salty-ness, but if it has worked for you I am willing to give it a go!

    1. Jo

      They have a low sodium version I use – Costco has it. I buy the rotisserie chicken and use the carcass to make broth with some of this to boost flavor. Used my crockpot this last time it was so easy.

      1. subtlespeak

        This was delicious, and I say that as a Southeast Asian! I used yardlong beans since those are more widely available in my country than spinach. Another sub I made was calamansi (Philippine lemon) instead of limes. I also used fresh coconut milk straight from the coconut, and added a bit of shiitake broth. This dish would probably be nice with some shiitake as well. One thing — I would recommend not to bring the coconut milk to a heavy boil because that makes it curdle. Thank you for this recipe!!

  6. Alexis Jonson

    This looks amazing! I am allergic to eggs and I am wondering if you have any recommendations for a binder for the meatballs to substitute?

  7. I don’t do a lot of thai / vietnamese flavors at home but I saw this and was like “yup, that’s our dinner tonight. ” It came out great, and the whole family (including a 2nd-grader and preschooler) loved it.

    One of my favorites in a long time. Thanks Deb!

    1. paevans

      I bet Chicken would be delicious – Deb’s Baked Chicken Meatballs (on this site) are so good (and easy to make). Try it!

  8. Charlotte in Toronto

    Looks very nice. We’re having similar weather on Toronto. I’m wanting to eat soup. So this is a perfect and delicious fix. I’ll add a heavy dose of cilantro (I seem to have developed a cilantro fetish). Thank you for this. And I must say, I love what you’ve done with that lime. So pretty 💚

  9. Shannon

    Looks wonderful! If you were going to add eggs to this soup would you drizzle them in ala Egg Flower Soup or would you top the soup with a soft boiled egg? Or otherwise?

    1. Lauren

      I was thinking of making this with hard boiled eggs instead of meatballs to make it vegetarian, reminds me of a South Indian dish at one of my favourite restaurants. Probably tofu would also be good!

    1. MK

      I was also wondering if the coconut milk could be eliminated and replaced with more broth or something else. I don’t like coconut, but everything else in this recipe sounds delicious!

    2. I love curries but hate coconut and have done a fair amount of reading about this. I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet, but the main two substitutions I see are heavy cream and yogurt. Regular milk is much thinner, which is why people stay away from using it. Yogurt is best in applications where it won’t be heated too much and potentially break, so I might go with half-and-half here (2 cups of cream is kind of a lot, I think). If (when, eventually) I try it, I’ll report back!

    3. Lisa

      I would try evaporated milk. It’s slightly sweet (but not like condensed!) and probably has a similar consistency. It holds up well in soup.

  10. Jody

    If I’m trying to scale this down (halve) then could I do one can coconut and one cup broth? Will serve over rice as sauce.

    1. Karina Lake

      Hi, It’s 1 can coconut milk 2 cups broth! Which is basically a can of broth. Rather than trying to scale down and having odd amounts of liquid ingredients left over, just make the full recipe and freeze half the broth for later. Scaling down the meat is much easier, although again, meatballs freeze well, so make a full batch and then freeze half the meatballs (separate from the sauce).

    2. Jody

      Update that I made the whole amount and just froze a few uncooked meatballs for next time. Broth all sucked up by rice and delicious

    3. Sarah

      I made half the meatballs and the full amount of broth–it was so delicious that I was thrilled to have extra!

  11. leah

    This sounds wonderful. The broth itself is a good start to innovating on the meat or non-meat protein that can be added. Yes to chicken or turkey, minced shrimp or fish. Heck, if there’s no time to make meatballs, you can add sliced chicken breast, shrimp or fish fillets. Perhaps even tofu.

  12. I’m afraid that I would’ve been with the kids on the rice front as I always serve this kind of thing with rice. Jasmine rice, normally. And rice noodles sometimes, for a sort of Thai style pasta and meatballs type meal.

  13. Lily

    Thank you for this! I made it last night and it was roundly enjoyed. I put fried shallots on top and it was a nice addition.

  14. Made this last night and it was amazing! It’s being added to our weekly rotation immediately.
    Bonus: You can definitely stack this with any of your favorite curry-friendly veggies — mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, etc. We added veggies when we added the meatballs so they had 15 or so minutes to cook, and they fit well with the rest of this delightful dish!

  15. Dalnapen

    Smitten, I too love the easy, casual dinner with friends. My widowed mother would do this often in the 1970s. I think it was her thought that we kids should get a clearer view of a nuclear family–one with dad and mom. Most of the dinners would go very well, and we kids had to stick with table manners and learn how to play easily with new kids.
    My sister is an extraordinary cook. I asked her once why we eat out so much as she can make food better than 90% of the places we go to. She said, “Well, it’s just that I don’t have to do the work!”
    But I’m for the re-establishment of “company dinners” and a more civil world!

  16. Louise Crosby

    I just made this exactly as instructed and it was delicious. My pork balls were on the dry side, however, so I’m wondering about replacing the panko with breadcrumbs soaked in a bit of milk. Next time I would also pop the raw meatballs straight into the broth to cook and not roast them in the oven first (they didn’t brown). That would give the broth a more meaty flavour.

    1. Gail

      These were my thoughts exactly when I read this recipe. But I always wonder how long you then have to cook the broth to make sure you aren’t drinking raw-pork-soup, you know? I use Deb’s everyday meatball recipe (that cooks in the red sauce) and am always a little nervous. (but nobody’s gotten sick yet!).

  17. Nancy Duncan

    “You can make that dinner anytime!” is what my husband just said to me. Yum! I didn’t tweak a thing, and I’m glad I used the mint and cilantro. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

    1. Kat

      So dang delicious! Kiddos loved it to, my 8 year old had seconds. I added some sliced snow peas in with the spinach and used lemongrass in the broth. I used jalapeno instead of red chile because that’s what they had at the store (seriously lemongrass but no red chilies?!?). Don’t skip pickling some sliced pepper, really really good.

  18. kimstebbins1

    I made this tonight and it was really good! I used all chicken (would rather use pork but that’s what I had—but the chicken meatballs were light and gingery and good–I called them ginger bombs!) and used jarred Calabrian chili’s also because that’s what I had. I didn’t have lemongrass, but I did have all other ingredients and I think sprinkling the mint and cilantro on top made it extra special. I did make one error, thinking I had low sodium chicken broth, but turned out I had no chicken broth except Better than Bullion. Unfortunately, I had already added the salt and fish sauce to the coconut milk, so the BTB made it a little too salty. It was still divine, though! Definitely use low or no salt broth/stock! I’m going to freeze the rest. An old catering trick I learned ages ago (for when you over-salt): put it in the freezer for at least a week. The salt dissipates somehow. I don’t really know what happens, but after a week in the freezer, the over-salted dish is always fine.

  19. Nathalie

    This is such a delicious recipe. I am doing the Whole30 so I had to make some minor tweaks. I left out the breadcrumbs and the fish sauce in the meatballs, made them with ground turkey instead of pork, and omitted the sugar in the sauce. I served them on a bed of cauliflower rice. What incredible and rich flavors! Thank you Deb! Can’t wait to make your toasted pecan cake again after this month.

  20. Elaine

    This is the perfect dinner response to the cold, damp spring that we have been having. I made it for my family and everyone loved it! This dish is going to become a regular in the dinner rotation.
    Thanks Deb!

  21. This was sooooo good. The base broth can be used for so many things–shrimp, mussels, tofu. But simmering the meatballs in it really added lusciousness. We served on rice with roasted asparagus on the side. Oh, and more than a handful of spinach! And will ooomph the chiles next time.

  22. I made this last night and we really liked it. Had to adjust a bit, as I only had 1lb of ground turkey, so I halved that part of the recipe but kept the broth the same portion. I added a bunch of broccoli in when I we added the meatballs into simmer-which I liked.
    Glad I had lemongrass to add into the broth-it was tasty. Also, pickled the red hot pepper to garnish with.
    Things I’d do differently-less salt in with the meatballs. It was too much with fish sauce and a teaspoon of salt. Seemed out of balance with too salty meatballs and not seasoned enough broth. And, I think some green onions in with the meatballs as well next time.
    I would maybe even try more veggies in with the broth next time-and one pound of turkey seemed plenty. I think I’d like to try the pork next time!
    All in all-fun and tasty recipe!

  23. Alice

    Thanks for this great recipe! I made it even simpler by putting chicken thighs to simmer in the broth, then shredding them. A big hit with everyone.

  24. Marijke

    The recipe totally works without the eggs; my boyfriend is allergic so I just left them out. I also added half a minced shallot and a couple minced green onions to the meatballs and really enjoyed the flavour. I used thin rice noodles as my starch and sliced asparagus poached in the broth during the last two minutes of cooking. The recipe is quite heavy on the meatball to broth ratio, you could do half the meatball mixture if you prefer a lighter meal. Seriously good dinner! Thanks

  25. JP

    I made this tonight and we really enjoyed it. As always, I had to tweak the recipe a bit because of what I had and lacked in my kitchen. I made half the meatball recipe (for some reason, my meatballs were flat on one side after baking- the side closest to the baking sheet). I made them just as you did, but left out about half of the salt. I thought about putting the meatballs, raw, in the broth, but decided against it because of the amount of fat that would have rendered out into the broth. I made the broth and because we do not like spicy, I used very thinly slice red bell pepper (mainly for color) and Swiss chard which we have so much of in our garden right now. I cooked it in the broth a little longer than I would have baby spinach. I did not have cilantro so we had mint and parsley, again from the garden. It was delicious and I agree with other comments, that I think there was enough meatballs per serving with half the meat called for, but then we are not huge meat eaters. We had about 6 meatballs each. We did serve with rice too. This will make two big meals for the two of us and was wonderful with a crunchy, tangy, salad on the side. Many thanks!

  26. I loved this simple and delicious recipe especially as we travel a lot and I can add this to my travel recipes. Apart from the fish sauce everything else I can easily source.

  27. Wow, ginger, coconut sauce and meatballs. I really have to try!!! It seems so delicious. I’m sure it will be perfect with a Tokay Pinot Gris from Alsace :-D Yes okay, I’m French and immediately think about the wine I can pair with a recipe!

  28. I can’t get over how good this looks. It’s really handy actually, as I bought a load of Panko breadcrumbs in bulk the other day as they were so cheap and I’ve been looking for new recipes to use them up. I adore ginger and this dish sounds so tasty and fragrant.

  29. I made this for dinner this evening with all-chicken meatballs. Very nice. The recipe reminded me a little of a chicken laksa recipe that I’m fond of, so I did what I do there, and ground up the vegetables for the broth (peppers, ginger, garlic) in the food processor with the spices into a paste. Then I fried that and added the liquids to make the broth. I was concerned it would be too hot, but it was just perfect (in fact I’m thinking I could have added another pepper, but it’s very hard to guess that sort of thing with the peppers I find in the supermarket). One thing I might change the in the future is to try to make the meatballs smaller, more bite-size. But that depends on whether I have the patience for it.

    Oh, and of course I used matzo meal to bind the meatballs instead of panko, because that’s just what you do in the weeks after passover!

  30. bookfanatic84

    This sounds great! I just bought the ingredients, substituting ground turkey since the ground pork they had was frozen solid. I think I’ll add a little oil to the meatball mixture, and I’ll probably add mushrooms.

    What kind of vinegar do you use on the chilies? I’m thinking distilled white.

  31. K

    I made this, nearly exactly as written. So delicious. Husband was raving about it, too.

    Swapped in turkey for pork (thigh mince, as the higher fat content – 7% – keeps them from becoming rock-hard and dry and awful). And couldn’t find fresh lemongrass but added about a teaspoon of lemongrass paste.

    Might reduce the salt slightly next time, or try a mix of turkey breast and thigh.

    But will for sure be making it again and again.

  32. Welcome to My New Danish Life!

    This looks amazing! I’m an American living in Denmark, where they LOVE meatballs, but they only eat them one way. I’m hoping to find more alternatives to spice up our meals! Thanks for sharing!

  33. I’m new to your blog, which as a non-cook I’m quickly falling for! So I keep it pretty basic in my tiny little kitchen and hadn’t heard of putting rice in soup before. I’m also not to sure my 14 year old son and my 4 year old granddaughter are prepaired to try green soup hehe. I however cannot wait! This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! Since I don’t know you, or what country you’re even in, and can’t count on awaiting an impromptu invitation to dinner, I’m going to try making this this week!

  34. Tovah

    Deb – made this tonight for my husband and kids (who, like all kids, are picky). Made it with a side of coconut rice because the coconut milk cans were 2 for 1! Delicious, everyone gobbled it up. Very easy to make, and loved the 1/2 pork 1/2 chicken combination. Now we’ll have leftovers for days :)

  35. Erin J

    My family loved this! You were right about kids loving meatballs; my one year old gobbled them up. This recipe was the perfect vehicle for the early spring produce just hitting the farmer’s market. I used two stalks of green garlic sliced into thick coins during the poaching stage and also added asparagus with the spinach. We finished the dish with the mint, cilantro, and also fried ramps. What a treat!

  36. Carie Lyn

    Yum! Made this tonight with ground chicken and pork, and it was soooo good. I had run out of fish sauce (and was momentarily irritated until I remembered I’d used it all up in the Candy Pork recipe, which was so worth it) so I substituted with worcestershire sauce. Luckily I had lemongrass, which helped add complexity. I also added both spinach and asparagus, but next time I think I’ll just stick with the spinach. Can’t wait to make this again. Thank you for a great recipe!

  37. I’m a long-time follower, first time commenter. This dish was SO FREAKING GOOD! I made it exactly as written with all the extras: lemongrass, chiles, mint, lime, cilantro, spinach… YUM! I found I didn’t need to make any adjustments. I’m only bummed that the weather is getting warmer now, and soup won’t be on the menu as often. Still — this one is a keeper!! Can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow. Thank you, Deb!

  38. longdistancepunner

    Everybody in my family loved this — including the 2nd-grader & kindergartner. I went easy on the chiles and the cilantro (for the cilantro averse kiddo). I added snow peas & sweet orange peppers for a wholesome meal. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. rutheye

      our dinner guests loved this!
      I did make a couple of additions. brown sugar, quite a bit, because we like asian sweet/salty. I chopped off cilantro stems and simmered in the soup. added garlic chili sauce for extra heat. extra extra garlic. didn’t have fresh lemon grass but did have lemon grass powder which was great.
      this is a terrific dinner for company. make meatballs in advance (through the simmering stage) and the soup comes together quickly.

  39. Meg

    Made it tonight! Loved adding lemongrass in the broth, threw in baby bok choy and cilantro at the end. Heavy on the lime zest and juice. And the meatballs? I used all ground chicken, no pork. We are carb conscious here so we forewent rice, but my guy went back for thirds so I think he liked it…

  40. Hillary

    This was absolutely spectacular! Made exactly as written, including lemon grass. Forgot to add spinach! It was washed and still sitting on the counter! So good. Will make again.

  41. Richelle

    LOVED the flavors here. I made mine more of a curry by boiling diced sweet potato into the broth and then pureeing it. I also added in some sautéed red bell pepper and served over couscous. It turned out AMAZING.

  42. 22pclark

    A propos your dinnertime conversation with finicky offspring: my mother, who cooked every day in the 50’s for a family of seven (four children with various food fetishes/dislikes/opinions and a grandmother as well as my opinionated father) finally began putting dinner on the table, fixing each and every one of us with a piercing gaze, and saying “eat what you like, leave what you don’t like, and SHUT UP ABOUT IT!”. Worked for her.

  43. Melissa

    This was so ridiculously delicious!!!! Will be making again and again for sure. A great weeknight meal for the family but also one I could see making it impress guests with, as we used homemade chicken stock and I bet it made the difference in giving the broth such body and flavor.

  44. Dennis M Clark

    This is a wonderful, beautiful recipe. I was very happy with the results (great taste, textural variety, heavenly aroma) after following it quite closely as written. My household agreed that providing fresh green chiles on the side is important to make the dish really sing. I had some leftovers, so on the second round I tossed in some fresh basil and fava beans that I found at the local farmers market — worked great! This is definitely going to be a go-to recipe for me.

  45. Jill

    I don’t know WHY I have 100 cookbooks. All I really need is this website.
    This. Is. Delicious.
    Thank you so much for your blog.

  46. Lori

    Is the green In the sauce solely from the spinach? Did you blend prior to adding the meatballs? I like the color, just wondering…

    1. deb

      I didn’t blend. The color in the broth might look a little bit green because the light is more blue in the afternoon in my kitchen.

  47. Deb

    So much better than the combination of the ingredients. My hubby, who doesn’t usually comment, said Wow, this is really good. The meatballs are great w/o the sauce and the sauce would be great with anything. This will be a regular.

  48. The first time I made it as-is, and it was delicious! But, I also made some for a vegetarian friend in which I made the broth (with veg. broth and soy sauce replacing fish sauce) and used that with crispy tofu, mushrooms and spinach. It was great. Then my husband loved the meatball version so much, I re-made the broth (as-is) for him, but was too lazy to make meatballs and just added diced raw chicken, mushrooms, potatoes and greens for a delicious asian-style chicken soup. So thanks for this recipe which is delicious, but is also a canvas for so much more! (Oh, and the meatballs, fried as a stand-alone appetizer are fantastic, and so would the meat mixture be amazing inside dumpling wrappers!)

  49. Laura

    I made this last night for dinner with some rice and it was really really good. Well loved by the husband and the baby too. Next time I make it I will make it I will probably add carrots or something too just to have more veggies for the amount of meat. But it was really very good as is.

  50. Rob

    So delicious! Saw this and immediately wanted to make it. My grocery store didn’t have ground pork so I subbed ground dark meat turkey. I added a splash of oil, a diced shallot, and some red pepper flakes to the meatball mixture. I also cut the meatballs in half (so 1 lb of meat) and added about a cup of mushrooms and chopped asparagus to the broth when I put the meatballs in. Was able to find lemongrass stalks in a jar near the coconut milk so added those as well. Couldn’t find red chilies so used serranos – 2 in the broth and 1 raw to garnish. I didn’t skim the soup before adding the meatballs so the ginger/chilies etc. were still in it. Served with rice and was really delicious! Excited to have the leftovers for lunch. Thanks for a great recipe!

  51. Elli Vahrenwald

    This was beyond amazing, top-notch, full of flavor, fantastic, easy, deeeeeeeeeeelicious…. honestly the list goes on. Thank God for Deb!

  52. Ann Oelschlager

    Wow! This was delicious! I was worried that it was too spicy (used 2 hot red chilies) but with the rice it was perfect. Thanks, Deb for a great recipe!

  53. Lynda Elkind

    We absolutely loved this. I]This recipe is added to the taped inside the kitchen cabinet recipes of Deb’s like her Spaghetti with Lemon Sauce which goes with sauvide lobster tails that are on every family celebrations.

  54. Megan

    Super delicious! I made it almost as written, but had run out of bread crumbs. I used 2 tablespoons coconut flour instead, and added a little lime zest to the meat mixture. Served with cauliflower rice sauteed garlic and ginger. Will make again and again and again.

  55. Anna

    I made this last night and followed another commenter’s suggestion of adding extra veggies in with the meatballs at the end – carrots and asparagus as well as spinach. It was SO GOOD, will definitely go into our rotation. However I felt like the ratio was way off. Two pounds of meat makes 50-60 meatballs. Even if you were trying to serve 6 like the recipe says, there wasn’t enough broth for that. I added about 15 meatballs to the broth to serve 2 adults and one toddler, and ended up with leftovers for one generous lunch. I put the rest of the meatballs in two freezer bags for the future. It will be great since the broth comes together so quickly, but I’m surprised the recipe didn’t address that.

  56. Alixandra Hice

    FIVE STARS!

    I made this recipe twice this week! It’s pretty flawless and fail proof. I doubled the garlic because I have zero consideration for others when it comes to my favorite herb and have honestly never ever tasted a dish that had too much garlic in it. I just love everything about this recipe. The meatballs are amazing and so is the broth. Love. Love. Love.

  57. Amanda

    These were delicious! I used 1lb of pork and 1lb of chicken, and sambal oelek in place of the chiles. Very good weeknight dinner.

  58. myrna todd

    Stellar dish- visually stunning in my ochre bowls, with a delicate yet flavourful taste. I would certainly serve this to guests anytime. We are looking forward to the leftovers tonight along with your strawberry granola crisp for dessert.
    I keep lemongrass in my freezer along with kefffir lime leaves and curry leaves when I can find them. I split the 6” stalks in two then pound them to release the flavours as I do with any ginger that I plan to remove from the broth. Thank you for posting.

  59. Virginia Shea

    Absolutely delicious, a huge hit!

    A few notes: (1) with less than 4 cups of liquid, I feel like this would be a pretty small amount of broth for 6 people. I was cooking for two tonight, so I halved the meatballs but made the full amount of broth (because no one wants a leftover half-can of coconut milk anyway). We both served ourselves generously and had a smallish serving of everything left over. So if I were going to make this for six, I would double the soup. (2) One 14.5-oz can of chicken broth is 1 3/4 cups. I just used that and added a quarter cup of water. (3) I mistakenly salted the broth before tasting it and was really worried I had overdone it! But I added some extra lime juice and another half-tsp of sugar, and after adding the spinach and serving with the rice mixed in, it was perfect.

    Thank you, Deb, I will definitely be making this again.

  60. sam

    I made this as written. It was easy and delicious. I missed the mint on my shopping list, but didn’t miss it so much in the recipe. I’ll make this again and again.

  61. emilyadi

    This was delicious. I halved the meatballs simply because I can’t read recipes and only bought a pound of pork, but I felt like it was still plenty.. My sauce was more of an orangey color from the turmeric but tasted amazing. Very reminiscent of meals I’ve had at Thai restaurants. I can’t believe it can come so close with just a few ingredients!

  62. Andi

    This was delicious! I used half ground pork and ground chicken. My husband can’t handle spice, so I omitted the chilies, and cut up 1 stalk of lemongrass, added an additional 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and juice of the whole lime. I did do the fresh cilantro and mint as garnishment, along with unsalted chopped peanuts and some peanut sauce with a few extra squeezes of lime. It was quick and easy and definitely going to be a regular in my house!
    I have really enjoyed following you, so many of your recipes are amazing :)

  63. Allie

    Well, I made this for dinner, then my family ate ALL of it…… So, considering my lack of leftovers the next day, I had no choice but to make it again for lunch. Amazing.
    Oh and I added some cubed tofu for my pseudo-vegetarian husband. It worked very well.

  64. Melissa

    This was the most delicious soup and so utterly simple. Thank you so much for sharing it. My family loved it.

  65. Vanessa

    This recipe turned out great! I accidentally bought a package of ground meat that was half beef/half pork, but the meatballs turned out well. I will definitely be making this again.

  66. These sound incredible, I’m always on the lookout for different types of meatballs as they’re the perfect food for baby led weaning which we’re about to start with our second son in a few weeks. Huge fans of introducing flavour early on and these certainly pack a lot of tastes in. Can’t wait to give them a go.

  67. Annie

    We made these last weekend, and if you want a recipe that packs a flavor punch and isn’t complicated or fussy, this is it. I made the meatballs while my sweetie made the broth. Served with rice and extra lime and hot pepper, and the 11 year old loved it as well. Win, win!! Thank you!!

  68. Charity Millard

    These were so easy and so yummy! I usually go with red sauce or mushroom loaded velouté for meatballs. This was a welcome flavor change up. Thanks!

  69. Jennifer

    So delicious!! I added red curry paste to the broth and a handful of shredded carrots along with the spinach. Really really good.

  70. Lois Urkowitz

    I used turkey broth since I was out of chicken and subbed matzah meal for the Panko as my kitchen was not back to pre Passover. I was surprised that my husband liked it. Shared with a client. I’m odd, had it room temp one meal over spring mix and tomatoes and then with sweet chili oil another day. Great dish!

  71. Yolanda

    I made this with half the meatballs but the full amount of broth and about 1 cup (dry) of rice and it made 4 perfect servings. Made exactly 16 meatballs. SO GOOD!

  72. Lauren

    I made this last night and it was PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. Excited to keep making it and change it up by using ground chicken, asparagus, bell peppers, etc. Also I added a little extra fish sauce and served it over more rice (similar to a Thai curry) and it was so so wonderful. Thank you!

  73. shreya

    This was a delicious dinner freshly made and an equally delicious lunch when reheated! I didn’t have ground pork so made it with just some ground chicken I had on hand (1lb) but kept the broth the same amount as the recipe and made sure to add fresh lemongrass. Definitely a keeper for the dinner rotation, thank you for the recipe Deb!

  74. T

    This was a total winner. So quick, easy and very delicious. Plus, so versatile. I had leftover roast veg that I’ll add to the leftovers tomorrow. Will go on our immediate weeknight rotation, thanks Deb.

  75. Amber Leigh

    I’ve been reading this blog for years and have never commented before. This was worth commenting on. Made this last night because the positive kid friendly reviews of the readers, and since I have five of them, that’s always a bonus :) Everybody LOVED it, even the 2 year old…Made with ground chicken and doubled the sauce. Thanks Deb!

  76. Michelle

    One of the best things I’ve ever made! I used ground turkey because it was on sale. I put both red chiles in the broth- perfect heat with the coconut milk. I wish I’d doubled the sauce/broth. I couldn’t believe I had made it myself- exotic and incredibly flavorful. Thank you for a totally amazing recipe!

  77. Lisa

    Made this tonight with chicken I ground myself and added all the meatball ingredients in the food processor. This was easy to put together and simple. Served it with rice. My kids each ate two bowls full. I think this will be part of our spring, summer dinner rotation.

  78. Meg Tsvetkova

    I make a lot of smitten kitchen recipes and always recommend the blog to friends of mine, however this is the second time I’ve ever commented on the website.

    It’s a great recipe, broth tastes authentic and the prep is no fuss. My advice would be, add some mushrooms and bamboo shoots! The crunchiness of the bamboo shoots makes this perfect.

  79. Kate Nicholson

    Made this for dinner tonight, and loved it. Spicy–but not super spicy, warming and comforting. Plus fish sauce makes everything better.

  80. Lisa O

    Yum!! I made the soup part vegan (using Fush sauce instead of fish sauce). Added meatballs to my guy’s serving and just veggies for me. So bright and delicious! While making the soup I put in one lime leaf and, believe it or not, a a Ginger Yogi Tea bag. It has lemongrass and since I didn’t have any, I improvised! This is delicious and we’ll enjoy it in winter and summer!

  81. Flo

    Very good and quick to make — took no more than 30 mins total. Used just 1lb/500g of ground pork but kept the broth the same. It served five of us — four meatballs each for the adults, three each for the kids. Served over rice noodles. The cilantro, mint, pickled peppers and some extra lime juice made it particularly delicious.

  82. Laura

    I made this last night for dinner and it was a huge hit with everyone including my toddler! So easy and so tasty. No leftovers so next time I will double the proportions for the delicious broth… thanks Deb, another winner :)

  83. Pugs

    I am another long time lurker who has finally been driven to comment by this recipe. It is perfect as written, but I also had kaffir lime leaves on hand and added one, finely chopped. Results were divine.

  84. sallyt

    LOVED this. I made half the meatball recipe and it was perfect with the amount of broth. My half recipe made 16 meatballs (with a #40 scoop). I sprayed olive oil on the sheet pan and flipped the meatballs halfway through. Definitely add lemongrass to the broth. Next time I’d try with lite coconut milk –