Yesterday was such a lousy, rainy day! It was a day for spending under a blanket on the couch with hand sewing or a good book or a willing partner. But no. I had to schlep wood for woodboxes and deliver some food to a friend who is ill, return overdue books to the library and schlep grocery bags from the store to the car to the house. By the end of the day, my toes were wet because my clogs have sprung a leak. My hands were clammy and chilled and my hair was damp from the trips between car and errand locations. And the rain and bluster just kept blustering. UGH!
By the time I closed the back door on the rain, I was ready to huddle in front of the woodstove and thaw out. The smell of this soup greeted me as I came through the door. Thank God, I'd had the forethought to put it in the crockpot before I left on my errands. Sometimes my sense of intuition and planning astounds me. The loaf of ciabatta bread that I bought was pretty perfect alongside after I toasted and slathered it with a seasoned garlic butter.
To boot, SB showed up late in the afternoon, bragging that he'd tagged a deer earlier in the day. We celebrated the prospect of a freezer of venison for the winter and tucked into bowls of soup and ciabatta toasts ............. and I slowly thawed out.
Doing SB's laundry after supper was an actual pleasure, as the clothes came warm from the dryer and felt great draped over my legs. I folded hunting pants, flannel shirts, etc.; digging chilly hands into a warm laundry basket felt great. I never thought I'd see the day when doing laundry was a positive experience.
Life in the country is surely not glamorous, but I guess I'll take it with a warm heart and a full belly.
Now, about this soup. There are a bunch of meatball soup recipes around, but I think mine is a bit different because of those anchovies and the different poblano flavour in the meatballs. The anchovies add real depth to the broth. Don't be afraid to use them. The ditalini step can be avoided and the pasta can be added to the soup, that is, if you are going to serve the soup right a way. Use more beef stock, though. I put the ditalini into the crockpot and it got too soft for my taste. Plus it soaked up a lot of the beef broth. Hence, our soup was stew-p. Hence, the altered recipe below. If you're going to leave the soup simmering in a crockpot, it pays to cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving.
This is a good recipe, folks! Enjoy!
Another Meatball Soup
¾ lb. extra-lean ground beef
⅓ dry bread crumbs
1 large egg
¼ c. minced fresh parsley
2 generous tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. finely chopped Poblano pepper
¼ c. finely chopped shallot
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 anchovies, smashed
1- 15oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes in their juices
1- 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into ‘coins’
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 – 5 c. reduced sodium beef broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
¼ c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
¼ c. ditalini pasta, cooked to al dente stage in a separate pan using some of the beef broth, tossed with a bit of butter and set aside
Making the Soup:
- Combine all the meatball ingredients in a deep bowl. Smash everything really well with your hands to make a meatball mush. Use a teaspoon to measure enough meatball mix to make very small spoon-sized meatballs (about the size of a quail egg – maybe a bit over an inch in diameter).
- Now, heat a non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Spritz it with olive oil and dump the meatballs into the pan. Don’t move them until they are browned well on a side, then shake the pan to roll them around. Shift any stubborn ones and brown the next side, shake again to roll them etc until they are well-browned all around.
- While the meatballs are browning, make the soup. Heat a soup pot on medium-high heat, adding the olive oil, onion and celery and stirring to sizzle things. When they glisten, add the anchovies and smash them about to help them melt into the oil and juices of the veg.
- Pour in the tomatoes and cook for a couple minutes.
- Turn in the beans, carrots, parsley, broth, tomato paste, and oregano.
- Bring the soup to a low bubble, reduce the heat to simmer and add the meatballs.
- Simmer the soup for an hour to let all the ingredient flavours meld.
- Meanwhile cook the ditalini al dente in a small saucepan with some beef broth.
- When you are ready to serve the soup, add the ditalini so it does ever get mushy.
Serves 4 – 5
Note: One might add chopped kale ribbons to the stock also … or not.