Armenian Meatball Soup (Sulu Kofte)

March 29, 2011 (Last Updated: June 29, 2020)
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This Armenian Meatball Soup, Armenian kufta (kofta) soup or sulu kofte, is the ultimate bowl of comfort. Tiny beef-and-bulgur meatballs are poached in a lemony, tomato-laced broth, and finished with dried mint to create this family favorite!

A bowl of Armenian meatball soup with sliced wheat toast next to the bowl

What defines a comfort food? Does it contain chocolate? Is it wrapped in pastry crust? Filled with cheese? Is it something you grew up eating, or only recently discovered and have since looked to in times of stress? I have a pretty long list of comfort foods, and what I crave really depends on that specific occasion. While a piping hot chicken pot pie will complete me on particular days, a plate of plump mushroom dumplings will quiet my emotions under other circumstances. Neither of these comforts (among many other foods that can fill the void) were things I grew up eating, but comfort can come from anywhere. And you could discover a new comfort food today.

A bowl of Armenian meatball soup with wheat toast next to the bowl

Manti is easily one of the most comforting foods that I grew up eating. There are many others that my mother or grandmother have passed down to me. Some of these recipes date back many generations. It’s what makes me who I am, and how your family recipes make you who you are. These recipes help define us. Someday way into the future, our children and our children’s children will hopefully find comfort in some of these same things. This soup does it for me. I’ve enjoyed it since I was very young, and the original recipe dates back for generations in my family (though adapted over the years and finally measured by yours truly).

A spoon is lifting a meatball out of the bowl of Armenian meatball soup

How to make Armenian Meatball Soup

What sets this soup apart from others is the lemony tomato broth. It’s a perfect compliment to the tiny bulgur-infused meatballs. This is where we begin, by mixing and shaping the meatballs. The bulgur provides a heartiness to the meatballs, and also acts as a binding element. The meatballs themselves should be rather small, about 3/4-to-1-inch in diameter, and tightly packed. Use water to wet your hands while shaping to ensure they do not stick to your palms.

A tray of small meatballs ready to go into the soup

Next, you’ll prepare the broth by sauteing chopped onion, and adding a combination of tomato sauce, broth, water, and lemon juice. Carefully add the meatballs to the soup, and give them a good stir so they don’t stick together. When the meatballs are plump and cooked through, the soup is ready! Just finish it with a bit of dried mint, and test for seasoning.

A bowl of Armenian meatball soup with wheat toast on the side

I hope you find this Armenian meatball soup as comforting as I do. It has been a family favorite for years! If you’d like to try a gluten-free spin on this soup, try this Meatball Soup with Potatoes and Carrots, which replaces the bulgur with rice, and changes up the broth a bit. I also really love this Armenian Lentil Soup with Macaroni as well as My Grandma’s Red Lentil Soup with potatoes.

armenian meatball soup with toasted bread

Armenian Meatball Soup

This Armenian Meatball Soup, Armenian kufta (kofta) soup or sulu kofte, is the ultimate bowl of comfort. Tiny beef-and-bulgur meatballs are poached in a lemony, tomato-laced broth, and finished with dried mint to create this family favorite!
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Armenian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 239 kcal



  • 1 cup #1 grade fine bulgur
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • About 1/2 cup water


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce or ground peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth or beef broth (or an equivalent amount of water)
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon rice (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves



  • Fill a small bowl with some water and place next to the mixing bowl.
  • Add the bulgur, beef, onion, salt, pepper, and paprika to the bowl and mix well with your hands, adding water a handful at a time until it becomes cohesive and firm (you may need to wet your hands with the water in the bowl as you mix).
  • Constantly wetting your hands, make little meatballs by rolling small bits of the mixture between your palms. They should be about 3/4-inch to 1-inch in diameter. Place the small meatballs on a tray or baking sheet until ready to cook. You will have about 130 meatballs.


  • In a pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter, add the onion, and sauté until softened. Add the water, tomato sauce, broth, salt, pepper, and paprika, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and carefully drop the meatballs several at a time into the liquid, mixing in between additions to make sure the meatballs do not stick together. Add the chickpeas or rice, if desired.
  • When the mixture comes back up to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through (they will plump up). Adjust the seasonings if needed, and add the dried mint just before removing from the heat. Serve immediately.

Notes & Nutrition

  • This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.
Servings 8.0 * calories 239 * Total Fat 8 g * Saturated Fat 3 g * Monounsaturated Fat 0 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 42 mg * Sodium 1276 mg * Potassium 346 mg * Total Carbohydrate 26 g * Dietary Fiber 6 g * Sugars 4 g * Protein 18 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

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Bowl of Armenian meatball soup (kofta soup)


  • Reply
    December 6, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    5 stars
    My family makes this with ground lamb! I make a lamb based broth then add tomatoe sauce to make a rich broth. Make my meatballs (kufta) with finely chopped parsley, fine bulgar. That’s the way my grandma from Armenia made it. Sooooo good!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    5 stars
    This looks so good! It’s been so cold out that it looks like the perfect thing to make to warm up!

    • Reply
      January 8, 2020 at 10:21 pm

      It really is! This is easily one of my favorite soups since childhood. Perfectly cozy and hearty. Mmmm.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh, this soup is so good! Really warming and easy to make too. Definitely going to add bulgur to my meatballs more often!

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    5 stars
    It’s so cold today! This soup looks like the perfect thing to warm up to!

  • Reply
    Carrie Robinson
    January 15, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    5 stars
    This soup sounds so flavorful and comforting! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    5 stars
    There can never be too many meatball recipes! This soup looks so good, and just what I need for the cold days. 🙂

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    5 stars
    I love meatball soup and the spices in the recipe has made it one of my favorites. Will make again.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    5 stars
    Hands down, one of my favorite soups on the face of the planet! My kids have followed in my obsession clearly…

  • Reply
    February 6, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    5 stars
    The perfect soup for cold weather or any weather. I made it last night & it was better than my mom’s sulu kofte & that’s saying alot (love you mom). The broth is delicious, the meatballs so tasty & overall a delicious dish. My husband’s from Chile & called it Armenian albandiga soup.

    • Reply
      February 6, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so glad you and your hubby enjoyed it. It’s been one of my absolute favorites since childhood 😀

  • Reply
    Tania Arabian
    March 3, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    5 stars
    I made this over the weekend. I have a gluten allergy so I have been on a mission to make all my nana’s recipes gluten free so I can still enjoy them. Since bulgur is not an option for me, I made it with rice instead…the result was fantastic! The meatballs were so moist and the soup was a warm delight!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2020 at 6:04 pm

      Sounds like a great win! I love it when you can easily adapt a recipe (like this one) to accommodate a gluten allergy. Yay!!

  • Reply
    Donna Louise Boyd
    March 4, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    5 stars
    I made this and it was delicious! Great recipe, thank you!

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