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Vietnamese-Spiced Meatballs in Coconut Broth

Vietnamese-Spiced Meatballs in Coconut Broth
Home » Low Carb Lifestyle » Low carb dinner ideas » Vietnamese meatballs

This wonderful Vietnamese meatball soup, inspired by Gordon Ramsey lends itself easily to a low carb adaptation. The spices used in the tender meatballs, along with the warming spices and coconut milk used in the broth give it the Vietnamese-style flavor that is so well balanced between sweet, sour, warm and cool. Serve with rice or pasta if you are not low carb, but the soup is mouth-watering all on its own for low carb people!

Bowl of Vietnamese Meatball Soup.
Vietnamese Meatball Soup

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What makes this dish Vietnamese?

Vietnamese cuisine typically features a combination of five taste elements: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. The broth used in this recipe addresses each of these elements except the bitter (see ingredient photo below).

Specific spice profiles also are key to Vietnamese dishes. The spices used in the recipe below incorporate three of the major spices found in Vietnamese cuisine – ginger (warming), garlic (pungent) and hot chili peppers (spicy).

Ingredients for Vietnamese meatballs.
Ingredients: ground pork, scallions, garlic, fish sauce, hot chile sauce, sugar, cornstarch
Ingredients for Vietnamese coconut broth.
Spices for Vietnamese coconut broth: coriander, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, lemon grass, ginger, lime

The sweetness comes from the cardamom, cinnamon and ginger rather than sugar (although a bit of sugar is optional). The sour comes in with the lime juice, the spicy from the red pepper flakes, and the salty from fish sauce chicken stock.  

It is missing the bitter element, so I might work on that in future renditions.  This was so good as it was though, that I’m hesitant to mess with it!

Other Favorite Meatball Recipes

Vietnamese Meatball Soup

Bowl of Vietnamese Meatball Soup.
A robust soup that makes the best of the warming spices and the cooling coconut milk. It is low carb as a soup, but is often served with rice.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 427




  • 1 Lb ground meat pork, chicken, beef or lamb
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt add ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ Cup fresh basil finely chopped
  • 4 Cloves garlic minced
  • 3 scallions (green onions) choped
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon hot chili sauce I used srirach
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar optional but it does taste better
  • 2 Teaspoons corn starch

Vietnamese Soup Broth

  • 2 Cups chicken stock
  • 2 Teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 2 Teaspoon freshly ground cardamom from cardamom seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 Teaspoon lemon grass paste
  • 3” root ginger grated (just shy of 1/2 cup grated)
  • 1 lime use zest and juice
  • 14 oz can coconut milk
  • ½ Teaspoon salt Or to taste


  • Place ground meat in large bowl and lightly salt and pepper it (about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).  
    Add the rest of the meatball ingredients (basil through cornstarch) and mix together thoroughly with your hands.
    Roll the mix into golf ball sized balls (~ 1 inch) and place on a plastic-wrapped plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so until they are firm. **Adding plastic wrap under meatballs makes it easier to transfer to baking sheet without tearing them (it’s optional).
    1 Lb ground meat, 1 Teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 Cup fresh basil, 4 Cloves garlic, 3 scallions (green onions), 1 Tablespoon fish sauce, 1 Tablespoon hot chili sauce, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 2 Teaspoons corn starch
  • When ready to make soup, place meatballs on baking sheet and bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes, or until browned. They will cook a little longer in the soup, so don’t overbake them.
    Remove meatballs to paper towels or plate (they may not be cooked all the way through yet).  
  • To a large saucepan or dutch oven, add chicken broth and rest of soup ingredients (broth through coconut milk). **Note:  it makes a big difference to use coriander seeds and cardamom pods and grind them fresh.
    Stir all together and heat up to a simmer. Simmer soup 5-10 minutes or until it is the thickness you desire, tasting and adding salt if necessary.
    2 Cups chicken stock, 2 Teaspoon freshly ground coriander, 2 Teaspoon freshly ground cardamom, 1 Teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes, 4 Teaspoon lemon grass paste, 3” root ginger, 1 lime, 14 oz can coconut milk, 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • Add meatballs to the soup and simmer together for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with fresh basil and red chili peppers.



Calories: 427kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 15gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 1254mgPotassium: 522mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 324IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 3mg
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