The BBC Good Food logo
Lionhead meatball soup in a bowl

Lionhead meatball soup

A star rating of 5 out of 5.1 ratingRate
Magazine subscription – your first 5 issues for only £5!
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

Enjoy these Shanghai-style mini 'lionhead' meatballs in a rich, earthy and sweet broth made with Chinese leaf and dried shiitake mushrooms

Nutrition: Per serving


  • 100ml groundnut oil, for frying

For the meatballs

  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch of ground white pepper
  • 50ml shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the soup broth

  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 5 dried Chinese mushrooms slices
  • 200g Chinese leaf, washed, quartered lengthways from leaf to stem
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp water

To serve

  • 2 large spring onions, washed, trimmed and sliced, to serve


  • STEP 1

    Put all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large bowl and stir to combine well. Using wetted hands, take a golf ball-sized mound and roll into a round shape. Put on a plate and repeat to make 12.

  • STEP 2

    Pour the groundnut oil into a large wok or pan and set over high heat until a thermometer reads 160C. Put a meatball onto a slotted spoon and gently lower into the oil. Leave to brown for 5-7 mins until golden, then cook all the meatballs. To check if a meatball is cooked, push a skewer through and, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked. Lift the meatballs out, then drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.

  • STEP 3

    Add 1 tbsp of the hot oil to a clean wok. Put over a high heat, add the vegetable stock, 850ml water, the mushrooms and Chinese leaf, and cook over a medium heat for 10-12 mins. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 4-5 mins, adjusting the cabbage leaves so they wrap around each meatball – the meatball resembles the ‘lion's head’ and the cabbage resembles the ‘mane’. Season with sesame oil, salt and ground white pepper. To thicken the soup, add 1 tbsp of the cornflour mixture when the broth is boiling. Then turn the heat to low and garnish with the sliced spring onions.

  • STEP 4

    Ladle a portion into soup bowls, spoon a meatball and with some Chinese leaf and sliced mushrooms, and serve immediately.

Goes well with


Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 5 out of 5.1 rating

Sponsored content