Traditional Dutch Vegetable Soup With Veal Meatballs Recipe

Spring Vegetable Soup with Meatballs. Photo © Karin Engelbrecht
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4

Meatballs (or balletjes in Dutch) feature in many traditional Dutch vegetable soup recipes. The meatballs can be made of any type of ground meat, but veal is very typical. The base of the soup is usually a light broth made with seasonal vegetables.

This groentesoep met balletjes can be tweaked to suit every season. For this spring version, we've used rose veal and -stock as well as young turnips, asparagus, and leeks. A summer take could include chicken meatballs and -stock with peas, fava beans, and fennel, while a winter version might feature beef meatballs, kale, carrots, and celeriac. Use whatever vegetables you fancy: what matters most is that you use a variety of colors, flavors, and textures.

What You'll Need

  • For the Meatballs:
  • 1/2 lb./225 g. ground veal (rose)
  • 1 tbsp. cream
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste (tomato purée)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly ground)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Soup:
  • 5 1/4 cups/1.25 liters veal stock
  • 1 medium carrot (finely diced)
  • 1 leek (thinly sliced)
  • 1 stalk of celery (thinly sliced)
  • 1 turnip (young, meiknolletjes, finely diced)
  • 4 oz. asparagus (about 20 baby green spears or 100 g)
  • 2 oz./50 g. cauliflower (small florets)
  • 2 oz./50 g. broccoli (small florets)
  • 2 oz./50 g. vermicelli
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Mix the ground veal with the cream, tomato paste, nutmeg and salt, and pepper.
  2. Roll into marble-sized balls between the palms of your hands. Set aside to rest in a cool place.
  3. Meanwhile, wash and prepare the vegetables.
  4. Bring the stock to the boil. Add the meatballs to the boiling stock and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the meatballs from the stock with a skimmer and set aside.
  6. Add the vegetables to the stock and cook for 10 minutes or until just tender.
  1. Add the meatballs back to the soup.
  2. Crumble the vermicelli into the soup and allow to cook for another minute.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with buttered whole wheat bread or cheese straws (kaasstengels).


  • To test the meatballs for seasoning, cook one meatball in a frying pan with a little oil. 
  • For best results, use fresh, homemade stock or quality stock. We often use stock sold in glass jars at our organic supermarket that tastes like homemade.
  • If you are short on time, you may prefer to use one of those ready prepared bags of vegetables from your supermarket: you'll need 1 lb (about 2 cups or 500 g) of mixed vegetables.

Did You Know?

Rose veal is a pink-hued meat, darker than anemic white traditional veal. It is an arguably more ethical meat, produced with calves up to about eight months old, raised on beef feed, with more room to move. Rose veal utilizes unwanted dairy calves, an unfortunate by-product of the dairy industry, which is otherwise shot at birth.