Here is another Belgian classic: ‘tomatensoep met ballekes’ or traditional tomato meatball soup… This was my favorite soup when I was a child! Try it out, it is delicious.
This tomato meatball soup is a classic Belgian soup.
Meatballs in Tomato Soup
It is a very popular dish in Flanders.
Nope, this is not meatballs in tomato sauce… but tomato soup!
Lots of restaurants serve it, especially as a lunch offer. You can also find it under the Flemish name of ‘tomatensoep met ballekes’. in Belgium. Or ‘soupe de tomates aux boulettes’ in French.
Lots of people tend to add some flour to this soup right in the end because that thickens it nicely.
It is an ingredient that goes into many other blended soups like chicken and dumpling soup, French onion soup and mushroom cream soup.
And I loved it as a child.
However I am not a fan of that floury thick texture anymore I have to say.
If you buy the industrial version of this tomato soup in tins or cartons in the supermarket, they have quite the same thickness.
Reason enough for me to make this one from scratch!
Creamy Belgian Tomato Meatball Soup (Tomatensoep met Ballekes)
I have been making this recipe for many years now.
With canned diced tomatoes and carrots. Sometimes I add celery as well.
I am not quite sure where exactly I picked it up. I once had a cookbook of recipes from a Belgian Michelin star chef by the name of Guy Van Cauteren with classic old fashioned Belgian dishes.
He died recently due to corona, at the age of 70.
I might have gotten it from there I think. Unfortunately someone once borrowed it but I never saw it again.
So this is just a wild guess.
You can let the raw meatballs poach in the soup or bake them in some butter first and then add them to the soup afterwards.
Serve this creamy tomato and meatball soup with a thick slice of bread. And a good layer of salted butter spread on it for me, please.
Do you love this recipe?
Then you should also check out the main course version of this meatball soup: my ‘ballekes in tomatensaus’ or meatballs in tomato sauce, also a Belgian classic!
But back to my Belgian classic of tomatensoep met ballekes or traditional tomato meatball soup… Try it out, it is delicious.
Best Belgian Tomato Meatball Soup Recipe
Another Belgian classic: 'tomatensoep met ballekes' or traditional tomato meatball soup!
- 1 lb canned chopped tomatoes (450 g)
- 4 cups chicken stock (960 ml), warm
- 2 large fresh tomatoes
- 1 medium fresh carrot
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves chopped
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 24 tiny meatballs (raw)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
Add the butter to a large and high pan. Place it over medium heat until melted. Then add the chopped garlic and onion together with the fresh rosemary.
Gently fry the garlic and onion for 4 minutes. Then pour in the canned chopped tomatoes and warm chicken stock.
Stir and then add the tomato paste. Season with a little pepper and salt.
Stir the soup again and then cover the pan. Cook the tomato soup for 8 minutes or until the onion is super soft. In the meantime chop the fresh ripe tomatoes up. Once the onion is soft, add the tomatoes.
Peel and slice the carrot. Also add this to the tomato soup.
Stir and cook for 8 more minutes until the carrot is soft. Remove the rosemary. Then blend or mix the warm tomato soup until it is very smooth. Check the seasoning and add extra pepper or salt to taste. Add the small meatballs to the soup. Cover the pan again and let them poach in the hot soup for 6 minutes until cooked through. Then add the chopped parsley.
Stir and take the pan off the heat. Scoop the tomato meatball soup into bowls and serve hot.
What tomatoes are best to soups?
When it comes to choosing tomatoes for my tomato meatball soup, there are several varieties that work well depending on your taste preferences and the specific soup recipe you are making.
Here are a few popular options:
- Roma tomatoes: often used in soups because they have a dense flesh, fewer seeds, and less water content. They provide a rich flavor and help thicken the soup.
- San Marzano tomatoes: known for their sweet, tangy flavor and low acidity. They are often used in Italian cuisine and are great for adding depth to tomato-based soups.
- Canned tomatoes: whole peeled tomatoes or diced tomatoes can be a convenient option for soups. They are typically ripe and packed at their peak, making them flavorful and consistent in quality.
- Heirloom tomatoes: these come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors. They can add unique and vibrant flavors to soups, especially if you are looking for a more complex taste.
Ultimately, the best tomatoes for my tomato meatball soup will depend on personal preference and the specific flavor profile you want to achieve.
It is always a good idea to taste the tomatoes before using them in your soup to ensure they meet your desired flavor and texture.
Why is tomato meatball soup so popular in Belgium?
The popularity of tomato meatball soup in Belgium can be attributed to a combination of factors, including culinary traditions, historical influences and regional preferences.
Here are a few reasons why tomato soup is popular in Belgium.
1. Historical and Cultural Influences
Tomato soup became popular in Belgium during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when tomatoes started to gain popularity as an ingredient in European cuisine. Belgian cuisine, influenced by both French and Dutch traditions, embraced the use of tomatoes in various dishes, including soups.
2. Climate and Agriculture
Belgium’s temperate climate allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of vegetables, including tomatoes. This accessibility to fresh tomatoes, along with the abundance of other locally grown ingredients, makes tomato soup a convenient and popular choice.
3. Comfort and Nostalgia
Tomato soup is often associated with comfort food and nostalgic flavors. Its warm, rich, and familiar taste makes it a favorite choice for many Belgians, particularly during colder months.
4. Gastronomic Heritage
Belgium has a strong culinary tradition and is renowned for its soups. The country takes pride in its diverse soup culture, and tomato soup has become a staple in Belgian cuisine, often served as a starter or as part of a traditional meal.
Tomato soup offers versatility in terms of serving options. It can be enjoyed on its own, paired with grilled cheese or a sandwich, or even used as a base for other dishes like stews or sauces.
While the popularity of tomato meatball soup is not exclusive to Belgium, the combination of historical influences, agricultural resources, and cultural preferences has contributed to its enduring appeal within the country’s culinary landscape.
Soup brands that are popular for their ready-to-eat soup products in Belgium are:
- Knorr is a popular brand known for its soup mixes and ready-to-eat soups. They offer a wide range of soup flavors, including tomato-based options. It is worth checking if they have a tomato meatball soup in their product line.
- Royco is another established brand in Belgium that offers a variety of soup mixes and instant soups. They might have tomato meatball soup or other similar options available.
- Liebig is a well-known brand that specializes in canned soups, particularly in Belgium and France. They offer a wide range of ready-to-eat soups made from high-quality ingredients, known for their rich flavors and traditional recipes.