Effie's Soutzoukakia - Spiced meatballs in tomato sauce

This recipe comes from a very special woman and Anthos' designated motherly figure, γιαγιά Έφη (yiayia/grandma Effie). Effie is none other than Ellie's mom and the only reason I am relaying her delicious soutzoukakia recipe is because I can gush unabashedly about yiayia Effie's charm, her beaming smile and sense of humor, her loving support for everyone who needs it and last, but not least, her cooking. Yiayia Effie is an adored mother and grandmother who raised two amazing women, Ellie and her sister Areti, and helped raise five awesome grandkids with love, trust, and amazing food. 

Our lovely yiayia Efflie at a birthday dinner. I bet you she treated the guests to some soutzoukakia! It's always a dinner party request.

My friends, you are in luck because we'll post a bunch of Effie's recipes. Our inaugural one is a classic, beloved Greek dish with roots from Smyrna, like Effie herself. It's a dish that's pure comfort - with an aromatic kick; because of the garlic and cumin. As you can imagine, using a great EVOO like Phileos in your tomato sauce is key!

Effie's Soutzoukakia


[For the meatballs]

  • 1kg (2.2 lbs) ground beef
  • 5 slices of stale white sliced bread
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup of EVOO
  • 1 tbs of red vinegar
  • 1 heaped tbs ground cumin 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

[For the sauce]

  • 500g (around 1 lbs) natural tomato sauce 
  • 1/3 cup of EVOO
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  • In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients, having pulverized the stale bread into breadcrumbs with the help of a food processor. Mix with your hands, like kneading dough, thoroughly and then mix some more, so that all the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover and chill in the fridge for shape your meatballs, about an hour or longer if you want to do this stage in advance.
  • Preheat the oven at 380° and shape your meatballs. Note that the 'balls' part is a misnomer. Soutzoukakia are oblong shaped, like some sort of fat mini kebabs, around 3'' long. Place shaped soutzoukakia on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake your oblong meatballs for about 20 minutes. While they're in the oven, start on your tomato sauce. Just add all the ingredients in a pot (big enough to take the meatballs) and as soon as it starts boiling bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer until you take out the soutzoukakia.
  • Transfer carefully - preferably with tongs - the meatballs in the simmering sauce. You may need to add a little water or stock to make sure that the meatballs are almost covered, yet not drowning. The sauce must not be thick as it's going to thicken as it braises the meatballs. Cover with a lid and cook in very low heat for 15'. Turn off the heat and let the cooked soutzoukakia rest and absorb the tomato goodness. The aromatic 'meatballs' will infuse the tomato with spices and the sauce will plump them up nicely. Serve with a good soaking agent. We love a pilaf style rice, but potato mash works also very well. 



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