Sulu köfte (Turkey meatballs soup)

Sulu köfte (literally means watery meatballs) is a Turkish stew or thick soup (çorba) with köfte. It consists of meatballs usually made with minced beef, mixed with rice (or bulgur) and spices and boiled in their own gravy and/or with tomato sauce.

A similar dish is called ekşili köfte or terbiyeli köfte, when made with egg-lemon (terbiye) sauce.



  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.

(Source from:

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