Friday, November 11, 2016

Looking for a hearty soup to serve this winter? Try Lentil Soup with Meatballs!

I can’t take credit for this particular recipe, but I’ll happily share my source, and my rendition.

The source: The Washington Post featured this recipe which was adapted from “Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share” by Kathy Gunst (Chronicle Books, 2016).

See my rendition below: This recipe sounded so enticing, I just had to make it. By adding a few of my own ingredient preferences, and tweaking it here and there, the dish became more personal. 
Serve it with crusty bread and that’s all you and your tummy will need for a very satisfying meal!
Lentil Soup with Meatballs, ready to serve!
Lentil Soup with Meatballs
Easily yields 8 servings

Soup Ingredients:
1 large onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried Italian herb blend, or to taste
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Aleppo red pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh mushroom, wiped clean and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch circles
1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1- 14.5 oz. can (no-salt-added) crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juice
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
6 cups chicken broth or stock, commercially prepared or homemade
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh parsley

Meatball Ingredients:
1-lb. ground turkey, lamb, or beef
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. dried Italian herb blend
1 large egg, beaten
½ crumbled feta cheese, optional
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and Aleppo red pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnish options:
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Crumbled feta cheese

How to make the Soup:
Lentil soup simmering on the stove.
Gently heat the olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes; add the dried herb blend, season lightly with salt and both peppers, and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and carrots; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the lentils, tomatoes with their juices, and tomato paste, stirring until all the ingredients in the pot are coated. Increase the heat to high, add the chicken stock or broth and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and add the parsley. Partially cover; cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How to make the Meatballs:
Shaped meatballs, ready to cook
Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
Combine the ground meat (I used ground turkey), garlic, dried herb blend, egg, feta cheese (if using), bread crumbs and a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, and Aleppo red pepper in a medium bowl. With clean hands, gently mix the ingredients until well-combined. Form 3/4-inch to 1-inch sized meatballs until meat mixture is used up. Mine yielded 35 meatballs.
Browning the meatballs before adding to soup
Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the meatballs making sure not to crowd them. If necessary, cook in small batches. Cook meatballs on all sides for about 5 minutes until evenly browned. 
(Please note: The meatballs will not be thoroughly cooked at this point.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Finishing the Soup:
Meatballs and soup simmering harmoniously!
After the soup has cooked for 45 minutes, add the browned meatballs. Partially cover and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes or until the lentils and carrots are tender and the meatballs are cooked through. Stir now and then.
Taste; adjust seasonings if needed. If the soup thickens too much, add a bit more liquid and heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Serving the Soup:

Ladle the soup into individual bowls; garnish with parsley and/or the feta cheese, if desired. Serve with crusty bread on the side!

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