Beef Ball, Kale, and Soba Soup

Chinese or East Asian meatballs are quite different from their Western counterpart. The key difference is in the texture. While Western meatballs are soft and more loosely formed, Chinese meatballs are often dense, smooth, and springy. The more springy and bouncy the texture, the better. These meatballs can be made with beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, or squid and are a favorite ingredient in soups as they hold their shape and do not disintegrate.

The texture is a matter of preference and many do enjoy less chewy and softer meatballs. The ones shown here today are a little soft but they do hold their shape in the soup. These are really easy to make and are great for little kiddies and adults alike. They are also good used as stuffing for vegetables. Perhaps I will make the springy ones at a later time.

This Beef Ball, Kale, and Soba Soup also features kale, my current favorite vegetable. I like its taste and texture, not to mention the vitamins A, C, K, and dietary fiber packed in those curly leaves. Do check out my other recipes featuring this nutritious vegetable, Fettuccini with Kale, Chickpeas, and Tomatoes and Caldo Verde – Portuguese Green Soup.

Beef Balls, Kale, and Soba Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 oz (340g) soba
  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, stem remove, and sliced ½ inch thick
Beef Balls
  • 1 lb (450g) extra lean minced beef
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Bonito shavings
  • Togarashi
  1. In a large bowl, mix together minced beef, green onions, corn starch, and pepper. Gather meat in hand and throw against the side of the bowl for about 3 to 4 minutes. Meat will come together in a ball. Shape into 1¼-inch diameter meatballs.
  2. Bring chicken stock to boil in a large pot. Add meatballs and season with salt and pepper. Allow meatballs to cook for about 10 minutes. Skim off scum.
  3. In the meantime, boil soba in another pot for about 5 minutes or according to packaging instructions. Remove and drain. Divide into 4 bowls.
  4. Add kale to beef ball soup. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes or until kale turns a bright green color. Do not overcook the kale.
  5. Turn off heat. Spoon beef balls, kale, and soup over soba. Garnish with sesame oil, bonito shavings, and togarashi. Serve immediately.

I am a big fan of sichimi togarashi (seven flavor chili pepper) and sprinkle it over noodles, nabes (hotpots), and grilled meats. It is a most convenient seasoning to have at the table to give certain dishes a subtle level of heat. The mix may vary but it usually consists of red chili pepper, hemp seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, orange peel, sansho (prickly ash), and nori. They come in 15g bottles but those get used up too quickly at our house. I prefer to buy the 200g or 500g bags to fill my various togarashi containers.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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        • Biren says

          Kitsune Udon is one of my favorites. Ro-Jiro loves it too. Whenever we visit Japan, we will have to eat it at least once. Do check out my post on visits to Japan. :)

  1. says

    What a beautiful bowl of soup, Biren. You are making me so hungry. Kale is one of those vegetables on top of my “to try” list. I really must look for this seven flavour chili pepper, looks amazing. Thanks for sharing another fantastic recipe.

    • Biren says

      I only started cooking kale not too long ago and am loving the taste, color, and texture of this very nutritious vegetable. You should have no problems finding sichimi togarashi at the Asian grocery stores.

  2. DongXing says

    I agree with LeQuan – it’s a beautiful bowl of soup that that is calling out for me! I love meatballs of any sort – fish, chicken, beef, swedish … I must give this a try as kale is in season at the moment, and the noodle soup is always one of my tops comfort food, any season! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Biren says

      Noodle soup is also my kind of comfort food. I have it at least once a week. Adding kale to the soup is a nice change from the usual napa cabbage. I love the texture and color of kale and it really goes well with meatballs.

  3. says

    I’ve definitely noticed that different in texture (and honestly, like Eastern meatballs better!). This soup looks so delicious!

  4. says

    Kale is definitely something I don’t cook enough with and something I must go out and purchase NOW! This soba soup looks and sounds amazing with all the different flavors going on and I love the beef balls! Fantastic

  5. says

    This looks like a great soup, Biren! Love all the kale in it! It’s cold and rainy here today and I think soup would be perfect for dinner! :)

  6. says

    My mum is a big fan of Chinese meatballs and buys them whenever we have steamboat. I, while loving the taste, cannot get past the springiness! I much prefer the softer ones.. Definitely going to give this recipe a go and see if it passes the mum taste test =)

  7. says

    That looks not only healthy but colourful and scrumptious. I have to try this for something different since the great news is that I can finally find soba noodles here!

  8. says

    Great soup! I love that there are so many ways to make the meatballs. I tried some fish balls in a Chinese noodle soup once and really loved them. They were filled with ground pork, I think. Kale is also a great and healthy addition to the mix.

  9. says

    Biren, your soba looks delicious with homemade beefballs, and I love that you added the bonito shavings…so much flavor! Beautiful presentation…all you need in one nice bowl. Hope you are having a wonderful week :-)


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