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Friday, January 22, 2010

it's not fancy, but it is meatball soup.

i've been making this soup for years. i change it up here and there, using whatever is on hand, but the basic formula remains: meatballs, broth, leafy greens, and pasta. it was inspired by escarole and little meatball soup, epicurious oct. 2003, but i've changed up the basic measurements just a bit.

this time i threw in some tomatoes from my freezer. not bad, though i think next time i make it with tomatoes i'll go much further with it. this was more or less a soup with some tomatoes, and i think it should be either a clear broth or a serious tomato base with some italian herbs.

the meatballs take a little time to form, but otherwise this soup comes together really fast. it's the thing i make when i don't feel like cooking, though admittedly that feeling for me may be a little different than it is for some people... :) i use a pound of beef, and freeze half of the meatballs for later use. 'cos, ya know, i like to freeze things... anyway, it's filling, satisfying, and even if your thing is campbell's, this soup will deliver. as i said, not fancy, but meatball soup.

tiny meatball soup

for meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
1/4 cup minced onion
1 egg 
salt and pepper

combine all ingredients in bowl until well mixed-- use your hands. shape mixture into tiny meatballs, about the size of one of those small balls you hang on the christmas tree, or a cherry tomato. set half aside for the soup, and freeze the rest for later.

for soup:
2 medium carrots, chopped 
1/2 bunch kale, tough stems removed and chopped (any green works-- spinach, broccoli raab, chard, escarole, bok choy... cooking times vary)
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and chopped (optional)
2 cups diced tomatoes (optional, or add more)
1 qt (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1 handful (about 1/2 cup) small pasta
salt and pepper
parmesean cheese to serve

heat stock and tomatoes (if using) over medium heat in soup pot. add carrots, leeks, and kale, and simmer until the carrots are almost tender, about 20-30 minutes. (if using a less hearty green, like spinach, add it with the meatballs.)

add meatballs and pasta and simmer until until the pasta is cooked, 15-20 minutes. alternatively, cook the pasta in a separate pot until al dente, and stir into the soup at the last minute, after the meatballs are cooked through. simmering in the broth, the meatballs cook in no time, but they don't mind simmering longer than they need so timing isn't a big issue.

season with salt and pepper, and serve with grated parmesean and crusty bread.  

ground beef-- skagit river ranch 
carrots and kale-- nash's organic produce 
eggs-- woodring northwest specialties (caity)
leek-- full circle farm 

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