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Monday, November 1, 2010

Middle Eastern Meatball Soup

This soup inspired me to add (finally!) something new to the Basics page because it was yet another easy and delicious dinner and it also uses every one of my "Soup Tricks." It's a little on the complicated side because you have to make the meatballs and do some pureeing, so I'll call it a weekend or entertaining soup - great for a day when you have a little more time, but of course you still don't want to slave at the stove. I love the combination of lamb and mint and lemon and tomatoes. Right after I took this photo, I dropped in a dollop of plain yogurt and, oh my goodness, that tangy, creamy addition pushed it up to the level of New Favorite. Serve with warm pita or flatbread, a little hummus as an appetizer maybe, and you have a whole evening set.

Middle Eastern Meatball Soup
Serves 4 to 6

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground lamb (it's a little pricey, but the rest of the soup is pretty inexpensive)
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs or Panko
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 T parsley, minced
1 t fresh mint, minced
1/2 t oregano (I used dried, but fresh would have been great)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
  • Put all meatball ingredients together in a bowl and mix gently. Try not to mix anymore than is needed.
  • Roll the mixture into small, bite-sized balls and set aside.
 For the soup:
4 T butter
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T paprika, hot and smoked if you can find it
2 T cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of cinnamon
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
2 15oz cans of garbanzo beans/chick peas
4 to 5 cups stock
juice of 1 lemon
1 t fresh mint, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
3 cups spinach, chopped
  • Saute the onion in the butter in the bottom of a soup pot. When it starts to brown, add the garlic and saute until it just starts to brown.
  • Add the paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and saute for about a minute to get them a little toasty.
  • Have the tomatoes open in case the spices start to stick too much - you can quickly dump them in and prevent anything from burning.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes to cook off the extra liquid in the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, breaking up the whole tomatoes.
  • Puree this in a blender or food processor or with a hand blender. You can make it as smooth or chunky as you want. I like it pretty smooth.
  • Put the puree back in the soup pot and bring it back to a simmer. Drop in the meatballs (do your best to not have them piled on top of each other) and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the stock and garbanzo beans and simmer for about 30 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs and get all the flavors happy together.
  • About 5 minutes before serving, add the lemon, mint, parsley, and spinach. Once the spinach is wilted, you're ready to go.

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