Filipino Meatball Noodle Soup: Misua Bola-Bola

Serves 6. | Prep: 20 minutes | Cook: 40 minutes


For the bola-bola/meatballs:

1 lb ground pork or beef

1/2 cup finely minced onion (about 1/2 onion)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

2 tsp cornstarch

For the shrimp stock:

the shells and heads, if possible, from 1 lb of shirmp, mashed

4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

For the soup:

2 tsp canola oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, diced 

1/2 cup finely minced onion (about 1/2 onion)

4 cups shrimp* or beef stock

2 cups beef stock

1 lb shrimp (optional)

2 tablespoon fish sauce (patis), or more, to taste

freshly ground black pepper

2-3 zucchinis, sliced

6 oz misua or somen noodles

2 stalks of scallion, finely sliced


In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork or beef, onion, salt, pepper, egg and cornstarch. Form into 1 inch meatballs. This should yield about 45 meatballs. Let it sit in the refrigerator while you make the soup.

Make the shrimp stock by combining the shrimp shells, water, salt and pepper in a medium sauce pan. Bring to boil over high heat, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for at least 10 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the shells. Set aside.

Heat the oil over low heat in a large pot. Brown the garlic in the oil, and set aside.  Saute the tomato and onion for one minute over low heat.  Add stock plus 2 cups of beef stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the meatballs, one at a time.  Season with fish sauce and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Let come to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Add the browned garlic and cover. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, cook the misua or somen noodles separately according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Add the zucchini, shrimp and noodles to the soup.  Garnish with scallions and serve over rice if you wish.


* Note on the shrimp stock: While the making a quick shrimp stock is not at all difficult, if you are pressed for time or need to eliminate the shrimp for allergy concerns, the dish can be made with all beef stock. If you can, however, I would highly recommend including it!

If you can not find somen noodles, udon noodles also work in a pinch!

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