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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Absolute comfort.


Every winter I get into a long-standing habit of making nothing but soups.I mean not a whole lot of other main dishes make it on our table,but soups. I love a fresh,hot bowl of soup on a chilly winter's day,couldn't ask for more. The idea of the south having a "winter " is not the same winter as say Colorado has,but nonetheless it gets cold enough for me in the days following Thanksgiving to break out my soup recipes.
   Back last January of 2010,a dear,dear friend gave me a really nice gift. I mean a really nice gift that I would have eventually bought myself,but he beat me to it. Thank heavens he got to the finish line before me,because I wouldn't have enjoyed my winter soup recipes without this nice gift. What was this nice gift?

    A Le Creuset round,5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven. I mean folks really,I just about came apart when he walked in my door with that bright orange box. Hello! The heavens sang and everyone else around me was smiling because they knew,they just knew! that many good meals were to come from that pot.
           Fast-forward to last weekend.I had just come off of being sick for a few days and had just started to feel "human." I also had to sit still for a few days,not so fun. We were also expecting some "winter" weather here and I knew just what I wanted to make,get ready...drumroll please....soup! I had been eyeing this recipe in a soup cookbook that I have in my cookbook library.The soup cookbook had a perfectly lovely recipe,but I got online to look to see what other recies were out there.I found one on http://www.epicurious.com/ ,read through the reviews and I was in business. Although I didn see one common theme in some of the reviews that just jumped out at me,folks were saying that the leftovers were even better than the first taste.The "winter" weather was expected on Sunday.I planned to make this soup Saturday night,so look out we were having left-overs.Tasty,rich,savory leftovers,rumor had it.And we were gonna get some snow too,well sign me up,lets get to the grocery quick! The recipe was for Mexican Meatball Soup and it has moved up to the top of my soup recipe list. I think it has a permanent spot on that list,my goodness it was absolute comfort.
Here's how it went down:
Gather together the meatball mixture-ground beef,pork sausage,onion,cilantro,garlic,cornmeal,egg,cumin,salt,black pepper and milk.Mix all together in a large mixing bowl,let chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Next round up your soup ingredients,you will see some of the same ingredients show up here too.I like consistency.
We've got olive oil,garlic,onion,bay leaves,diced tomatoes,salsa,beef broth and rice.

The original recipe tells to add the rice to the pot and cook it in the soup itself. I followed the welcomed advice of other reviewers and cooked the rice separately.It is a little bit more work,but it adds to the soup nicely.
Now in the pot,sweat the onions,garlic and bay leaves for 5 minutes.


Next add in the rest of your soup ingredients and bring to a boil.
While the pot comes to a boil,get out your meatball mixture and cookie scoop.Scoop out meatballs,put them onto a foil-lined baking sheet.Broil them for 10 minutes in the oven. As suggested by other reviewers,cook the meatballs on the side.The recipe tells you to cook them in the soup. I have watched meatballs disintegrate in soup before and it just becomes a mess.So cook them separately,it works I promise.
Add the cooked meatballs to the soup,reduce the heat,cover and simmer for 20 minutes.While the soup simmers you can cook your rice.Next break out your bowls,scoop in your cooked rice and ladle the soup over the rice.I love this soup.


adapted from epicurious.com
Makes 6-8 (main-course) servings
Ingredients:
Soup :
2 TBL olive oil
2 3/4 c chopped onions,divided
4 garlic cloves,minced and divided
5 14.5 ounce cans beef broth
1 28-ounce diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 c chunky tomato salsa (med-hot)
1/2 c chopped cilantro,divided
Meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 lb pork sausage
6 TBL yellow cornmeal
1/4 c milk
1 large egg,lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp gr. black pepper
1/2 tsp gr. cumin

1/2 c long-grain white rice,cooked
Directions:
For the meatballs: mix together the ground beef and the sausage until well combined. Then mix in 1 tsp minced garlic,1 cup onions,1/4 cup cilantro,cornmeal,milk,egg,salt,black pepper and cumin. Mix well in a large mixing bowl,cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
For the soup:
  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 3/4 cup onions,1 tsp minced garlic and the bay leaves.saute 5 minutes. Add the broth,tomatoes with juices,salsa and 1/4c up,bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
At this point,preheat your oven's broiler. Take the meatball mix out of the fridge,using a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon-size balls,scoop out the meatballs. Put the meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes. Next add the cooked meatballs to the soup mixture,reduce the heat,and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
While the soup simmers, you can cook your rice. After you've cooked your rice and the soup has simmered with the meatballs,get out your soup bowls. Scoop the rice into the bowl and ladle into the bowl over the rice. This soup is really good to dip bread into,I made these biscuits (scroll to the bottom of this link) and this soup also goes really well with hot sauce,dang fine with hot sauce.I'm just saying.

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