Sunday, February 3, 2013

Souper Bowl

Lame pun.

Weather's been cold, wet, a bit snowy.  Need soup.  Decided I wanted to make a nice vegetable soup, but bolster it with something like meatballs. I love cabbage in soup, so decided to go in that direction.  And I wanted something more than just veggies, so opted for the meatballs, but thought about poaching them in stock so they're very tender in the soup.  What resulted is a kind of 'stuffed cabbage soup': many of the components that would go into stuffed cabbage, but less tomato-y and lacking the sweet/sour edge typical in its sauce.

I bought 5 lbs chicken bones at Giunta's yesterday, and immediately made a pot of stock when I got home.  Very nice.

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 slices soft white bread, cubed
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbp salt
1/2 Tbp black pepper
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cube the bread, and pour the milk over.  Mash around until a soft paste is formed ("panade").  Add eggs, mix well.  Add meat to the panade, season with salt and pepper.  Add garlic, cheese, parsley.  Mix well.

Form into small meatballs.  (I always use a two-tablespoon ice cream scoop).
 
Bring 6 cups chicken stock to a simmer.  Add the meatballs, bring the stock back to a simmer, then let the meatballs simmer gently for about 5 minutes.  Turn the heat off, cover, and let stand 10 minutes.  The ambient heat will cook the meatballs through without toughening them.  Remove meatballs from the stock and set both the meatballs and stock aside.
 
Meatballs, after gentle poaching in chicken stock. 

For the soup:
2 large onions, diced
1 shallot, minced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, shredded
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head Savoy cabbage
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Film a large Dutch oven with the olive oil..  Add onions, shallot, garlic, carrots, celery, and saute gently until softened, about 8 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add tomato paste, stirring throughout, and let it cook about 2 minutes.  Add shredded cabbage.  Toss well with other veggies.  Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved stock, cover, and let the cabbage wilt.  Uncover, stir well,  Season again, to taste.

All the veggies, after cabbage has been added with a bit of stock, then cooked until wilted.

Add reserved stock, bring to a simmer, and let simmer about 15-20 minutes, until the veggies are tender.  Again, taste the soup, especially if you've used unsalted, homemade stock (as I did), and check for seasoning.

Add meatballs back, add chopped parsley, bring to a simmer, and serve.  Or cover and refrigerate to warm up later (even better). 

The finished soup.  The tablespoon of tomato paste gives the soup a rich color, without overpowering the flavor.  You can see a couple of the meatballs bobbing up at the surface.


 A steaming bowlful, with a good sprinkling of grated pecorino. 

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