Sunday, November 20, 2011

Soup's Still On; Mexican Meatball Soup

Two weeks of soup for you. I guess it’s a testament to just how much of it I’ve been eating. It is that time of year, and I just can’t help myself. Not only have I been making a lot of soup lately, but it seems to be a reoccurring lunch theme as well. A nice cup of soup warms me up, pretty much satisfies my hunger for the rest of the day, and it’s cheap!

I heard Dr. Oz saying on the radio the other day that eating soup is one of the best things for you because it’s loaded with nutrients, is often packed with veggies, and fills you up so that you don’t overeat. And who questions Dr. Oz? Obviously, I don’t think he’s talking about rich creamy soups, but hearty vegetable and squash purees and low-sodium broths are great choices for the above reasons. I’m thinking that there are also bonus points if it’s homemade. If health is what you’re after, there’s no better way to control what you’re eating than by making it yourself.

This week I made Mexican Meatball or Albondigas soup. It was an idea that I came up with for a recipe variation at work, and it sounded so good that I was inspired to make it myself. It is not as traditional as most of the recipes that I found; for example, I left mint out which seems like a key ingredient in some of the more customary versions. But this is mine.

In this recipe, small half beef/half chorizo meatballs swim in a flavorful tomato-based broth with white rice. The soup is spiked with a little lime juice and jalapeno for extra depth and spice, and is seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin, and fresh cilantro. It is a full meal in itself and is perfect served with tortillas or bread to soak up all the tastiness.

P.S. I hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Check out my Thanksgiving sides post from last year with ideas and recipes for dishes such as cranberry relish, buttermilk biscuits, homemade apple sauce, sourdough and chestnut stuffing, and more!

Mexican Meatball Soup
Yield: 8 servings
- ½ pound ground beef
- 12 ounces chorizo sausage, removed from casing
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
- 1/3 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
- 1, 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 ½ quarts chicken broth
- ½ cup uncooked rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
• In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, chorizo, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder & cilantro until well incorporated. Form into ping pong-sized balls and refrigerate.
• In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Sweat the onions and carrots, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.
• Add the lime juice, tomato sauce, and chicken broth to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and season the broth with the salt, pepper, paprika and cumin. Add the rice and the meatballs one at a time. Simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until the rice and the meatballs are cooked through.
• Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the cilantro right before serving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soup's On

Everyone always asks me, what is your specialty? Or what is your favorite thing to cook? I’ll usually reply with something like, “I enjoy cooking more than baking” or “I just like being in the kitchen.” I don’t give a straight answer because I don’t have one. Mostly, I’ll simply answer, “everything.” But one thing I will say, when it comes to my favorite things to cook, soups are at the top of my list.

Building layers in the pot, starting with the basics and working up to the complexities, stirring it up, tasting, adjusting, making it perfect; it’s so many of the things that I love about cooking, all in one simmering pot of liquid goodness. From elaborate crystal clear consomm√©, to the most uncomplicated puree soup like this simple potato leek, I enjoy the comfort that soup brings me when I’m making it and when I’m eating it.

Soups are on everyone’s mind at this time of year. There is really nothing quite as cozy on a chilly day than a stick-to-your-ribs potage to warm you from the inside. This is a classically prepared vichyssoise, only not-so-classically, I serve it hot. It’s smooth, flavorful, substantial, and I feel, just a little homier when ladled into a bowl with some steam coming off the top. It’s always a crowd-pleaser as I’m pretty sure that most people can agree that anything potato is amazing.

Garnish this soup with a few snipped chives or make it baked potato-style with sour cream, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheddar on top. Another great thing I love about soup? A pot can make enough for a crowd, plus enough for lunch the next day, and maybe even the day after that. So enjoy it any and all ways, each time you reheat.

P.S. If you'd like, please check out the Media page for my recently published article on “The Healthiest Meal on Long Island.” Thanks. :-)

Potato Leek Soup
Yield: 10 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large leeks, chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 ½ pound potatoes, peeled & diced
- 2 ½ quarts chicken broth or stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 oz half-and-half
- Snipped chives
- Salt and pepper, to taste
• Heat the oil in a large pot. Sweat the leeks, celery and onion until tender and translucent.
• Add the potatoes, stock and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes begin to fall apart, about 25-30 minutes. Discard the 2 bay leaves.
• Puree the soup until smooth in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Remove from the heat and finish with the half-and-half. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately topped with snipped chives.