Bakso- Indonesian Meatball Soup Recipe- Gluten Free and Delicious!

I have this fascination with foreign cultures. If my life turned out differently than it did (like if I had more money, and no kids), I could definitely see myself being a world traveler, since I love learning about and experiencing foreign cultures. In fact, I was just discussing with Mike today, that whenever I hear about a country that I don't know much about, I usually end up searching for more information about it on Wikipedia, reading about its various ethnicities in its population, their religious beliefs, its geography, etc... but what interests me most about these countries is often their food.

When I learn about a new country, I am so tempted to go there just to eat some of their local cuisine. Since that isn't really in the picture at the moment, I "settle" for trying out some of their native recipes at home, and have come across some real treasures that way.

Take bibimbap for example, a famous (and very versatile) Korean dish, made out of various proteins, vegetables, rice, and toppings. I've never been to Korea, and can't see myself ever going there, but making bibimbap at home makes me feel like I've traveled to Korea.
Bakso, in my opinion, is to Indonesia what bibimbap is to Korea. Just as bibimbap is more a general recipe idea than a specific strict recipe, and can be made with what you have in the house, bakso also can be made with what you have in the house. Rather- you have the base- the meatball and the broth, but the rest of the things that you put in the soup can be changed up depending on your mood, diet, and availability of ingredients. The added bonus is that this dish is gluten free and egg free, and can easily be made paleo legal (by leaving out the noodles or using zucchini "noodles" in their place).

Bakso meatballs have a special texture based on their unique preparation method, and they can be made in advance and frozen for later use, as can the broth. The meatballs can also be chopped up and used in stir fries. The additions to the soup should be prepared separately and put into each bowl, then broth added to top it off. The vegetable additions can be added either raw or cooked. For example, I used raw grated carrots in mine, which I let soften for a few minutes in the hot soup before eating.

So, enjoy this dish of Indonesian street food with me, and close your eyes and pretend you've really traveled there and gotten to experience it.
Bon Apetite, and safe travels!

Bakso- Indonesian Meatball Soup Recipe- Gluten Free and Delicious!

1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons potato or tapioca starch
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce (use gluten free to keep this gluten free, or coconut aminos to keep it paleo friendly)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons water

3 cups beef broth (I use the water left over from boiling cheap cuts of meat to soften them)
2 teaspoons ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cardamom pods
10 cloves
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce (use gluten free to keep this gluten free, or coconut aminos to keep it paleo friendly)
4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt to taste

Other Additions (as many or as few as you'd like):
Steamed greens (spinach, bok choy, wild greens- I used lambsquarters in mine, etc...)
Noodles- typically rice vermicelli, but any should be fine
Bean sprouts
Wontons- boiled or fried (see both my gluten free and wheat from scratch versions)
Whatever else you want that you think will "go", including leftovers...
Other things I'd probably add, even though they're less traditional:
Sweet potatoes
Green beans
Stir fried cucumbers

1. Take all the broth ingredients and boil them together for about 10-15 minutes.

2. Take all the meatball ingredients and stick them in a food processor, and process for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides until it is all blended up and tacky. This overprocessing the meatball ingredients is what breaks down the protein somewhat and changes its texture to be the standard bakso texture (usually denser and softer than your standard meatball).

3. Refrigerate the meatball mixture for an hour or more.

4. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and wet your hands. Grab fist-fulls of the meatball mixture, and squeeze a little bit through the opening between your thumb and index finger, making smooth small meatballs, and dropping them into the water. They should start floating after a little bit- boil them for 2 minutes or so after they start boiling (check one for done-ness before removing them), and then remove.

5. Serve the meatballs together with the additions and broth.


Have you ever eaten any Indonesian dishes before, and more specifically bakso? If you've had bakso, what was in it? 
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Linking up to Allergy Free WednesdayReal Food Wednesday

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.

  1. i am absolutely trying this. Tonight. Thanks!

  2. Hi Penny, as an Indonesian, I found this bakso recipe interesting. I don't think I have ever seen bakso served with carrots or cauliflower (or most things in your list, really!). Bakso broth is also never cooked with cardamoms or cinnamon to my knowledge and years of eating bakso! I am sure your recipe makes a lovely dish, but calling it bakso, or even a "less traditional" bakso is probably quite surprising to many Indonesians!

    1. As I've said I've never been to Indonesia, nor ever ate at an Indonesian restaurant, so I trust you know what you're talking about as a native Indonesian. However, googling bakso cinnamon cardamom you'll find very many recipes with that combination, so maybe it's made that way in a different part of indonesia?
      As for cauliflower- yea, i'm sure that is very non traditional, but I'm sure it would still taste good.

  3. Penny, do you know of the blogs eatingasia and indonesiaeats? They are both beautiful and wonderful blogs that I think you will love.

    1. I'll have to check them out! Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. You could totally use your love for "travel" as an inspiration for a homeschool unit of study. Each week, choose a different country/region/etc and immerse your family in every aspect (that is feasible) and work on so many skills sets with it. That would be SO much fun! When I taught elementary school, one of my fave units was when we did Christmas around the world. We did it as a team (several classes) and each class was given a country to research (my class had Australia one year). The kids had created passports and they visited each country (classroom), they got to complete various planned activities relative to each particular country as well as sample cuisine (prepared by the class). Right before leaving, each passport was "stamped" with the seal for that country which had been created by the class or even as simple as a purchased stamp of some sort (I bought a kangaroo stamp for ours).

  5. For the broth recipe, do you mean powder, chopped, or pieces?
    1 teaspoons ginger
    1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Previous Post Next Post