Sunday, January 9, 2011

Soup's on!

Yesterday I had what I hope is the first of many cooking parties with friends this year; this time my friend Autumn came over.  My kitchen isn't large which made it interesting juggling the various cutting boards and bowls but it was fun to have company while cooking.  I sometimes include Isadora in the cooking process- she is an expert salad leaf tearer!- but any part of the recipe that calls for knives or hot pans means I'm on my own.  I don't even have another adult to feed so it can be lonely in my kitchen.

We each choose a soup recipe, cooked them up together, and then divided up the soups at the end.  That way we both rewarded with several containers of each soup to put in our respective freezers.  We also planned appropriately so that Isa would go down for her nap right as we finished up in the kitchen and we could chat while the soups cooked. Win-win situation!

Autumn made French Lentil Soup.  That recipe and her lovely photos are on her blog.

I decided on an Italian wedding soup.  Here is the recipe, with my modifications in italics:

The color looks a bit off on here but it's a nice, hearty broth-based soup.

(from Everyday Food magazine, January 2008)

1 lb ground dark-meat turkey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c plain dried breadcrumbs
   (see my comment after the recipe)
1/4 c grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
coarse salt & ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, halved & thinly sliced
   (I used 1/2 of a large onion already diced from making the cassoulet)
2 cans (14.5oz ea) reduced-sodium chicken broth
   (I used homemade turkey broth from my mom)
2 cans (14.5oz ea) diced tomatoes in juice
   (I diced fresh tomatoes)
2 heads escarole (2 lbs total), cored, trimmed & coarsely chopped
   (no escarole at the store, so I kept my love affair with chard going)

1. In a bowl, combine turkey, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Using 1 Tbsp for each, roll mixture into balls.
2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes (with juice); bring to a simmer. Add meatballs; cook, without stirring, until meatballs float to surface, about 5 minutes.
3. Add as much escarole to pot as will fit. Cook, gradually adding remaining escarole, until wilted and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Thin soup with water if desired; season with salt and pepper. Serve soup sprinkled with more Parmesan.
One last note- my mom's turkey broth was very flavorful, with the herbs not fully strained out.  If I had made this soup with plain broth, I would have wanted to add some seasoning.

Now about those breadcrumbs.... I realized when I got to the store that, according to The Rules, I couldn't buy a canister of breadcrumbs.  No worries, I thought, I can just buy some bread and grind it up.  Oh, wait.  The bread needs to be homemade as well.  Well crap.

I got home and started searching online for what I could substitute for breadcrumbs in the meatballs.  Thanks goodness for the internet!  I found some saltines in the pantry but once Autumn arrived, she reminded me that in order for her to eat the meatballs, they needed to be gluten free.  She'd brought along some gluten free crackers that I ground in food processor and the problem of the missing breadcrumbs was solved.  Note to self- bake some bread and make some breadcrumbs!

 Just stick your crackers into the food processor and grind until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency.  I'm happy to report the meatballs held together nicely.

We ate one portion of the lentil soup last night, accompanied by Parmesan garlic muffins.  I used this recipe, adding grated Parmesan and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  They were good but a bit bland; I didn't want to go overboard with the garlic but 2 cloves wasn't enough for my taste buds.  I think this recipe will be a good base for experimenting with savory muffins in the future.
The remainder of the soup was frozen for future easy dinners.  Autumn has an extra freezer, so she froze hers in canning jars.  Since I don't have the extra space, I froze the soup flat in freezer bags.  Once solid, they take up very little space.  Just remember to cool the soup before you put it in the bags and then into the freezer.


  1. A soup party is a FANTASTIC idea! I may have to steal it. Soon, though - the weather may get too hot for that in the very near future. Yum yum yum! Any more parties planned?