Soup du Jour
Growing up I never really liked soup. I always felt like I was getting cheated out of a real meal. Plus, who likes canned soup anyway??? To be fair, I don’t dislike all soups. The tortilla soup at the Mermaid Bar is amazing. And, I recently had a savory pumpkin soup at Russell’s Bakery that was very tasty. However, I have the habit of skimming right over soup recipes in cookbooks. In fact, I can count on two hands the number of different soups I’ve ever made. There was the vichyssoise disaster about 8 years ago in which I had to run to the store flames-still-burning to buy one of those handheld blenders to puree the leeks and potatoes. In the end it turned out ok, but it was still just soup with a fancy name and a lot of effort. I’ve made tomato basil soup, corn soup, French onion soup, and even a cold cucumber soup. My aunt gave me a tortilla soup recipe when Husband and I got married. Now that’s a good soup. But, I’ve only made it twice in eight years. You get the picture.
So, why was I inspired to try a soup recipe tonight? Why didn’t I just skim over it as I read this month’s issue of Gourmet? Who knows? Maybe it caught my eye because it’s in the magazine’s section titled Ten-Minute Mains. There was also a photo (pg. 89) and that always helps. For whatever reason, I made the Italian Meatball Soup tonight. Predicting the littles wouldn’t warm up to the idea of the soup, I made them the risotto dish I debuted a few weeks ago. DD begs me at least once a day to make risotto and she actually helped me make the dish today. With so much anticipation for a command performance I feared she wouldn’t like the risotto as much as her memory believed. Alas, after enjoying three bowls of the treat she kissed me and said I was the best mommy ever. Hum. Not a bad return on my investment.
The soup was not met with as much glee. Each of the children took a thank you bite*, but that was about it. One actually drank the broth, but the spinach just threw them for a loop. And, husband? We dissected it like this – the soup was actually really good. It was full of fresh spinach, carrots, celery, onion and the white beans made it really hearty. But, the meatballs were not so good. I followed the fix-it-quick theme of the article and used frozen meatballs as directed by the recipe. So, I got what I paid for — a good soup with frozen meatballs plopped in. I’ve already thought of a meatball recipe I’d like to try in an effort make this soup less of a quick fix. But, then it wouldn’t qualify as a Ten-Minute Main anymore would it?
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 cup frozen chopped onions (about 6 oz)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 5¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (42 fl oz)
- 2½ cups water
- 20 refrigerated or frozen precooked meatballs (15 to 20 ounces)
- 2 (14-oz) cans small white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (5- to 6-oz) bag baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven. Saute onions, garlic, celery, and carrots until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in broth and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a heavy skillet. Add meatballs and heat until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add meatballs and beans to soup, bring to a simmer. Cook until all vegetables are tender and meatballs are heated through, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in spinach, cheese, salt & pepper and simmer just until spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
I’ve come full circle and ended up right where I started in my thoughts on soup. For me soup du jour might as well be soup de l’annee.
* A thank you bite is a concept we learned from our dear friends and neighbors The Kruft Family. Each of their children (last count there were four) must take one thank you bite of everything on their plate.