Cilantro-Chicken Meatball Soup

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Albondigas!

That’s what I think/say when I make anything with meatballs. It’s just a reflex and since it means “meatballs” in spanish, it works. Don’t test me on my knowledge of foreign languages, though…okay? Cause, I will surely fail. Food SO is much easier to understand.

Anyway, this soup begins with searing little, spoonable chicken meatballs flavored with lots of fresh cilantro, some sauteed onion and garlic, and a bit of minced jalapeno for heat and excitement. Once the meatballs are brown and crispy-golden we sauté some more onion and garlic, another jalapeno, plus some carrots. There’s some corn (frozen is totally acceptable) and zucchini in there for health and science. Dried New Mexico chiles ground into a powder and cumin flavor and color the broth. More cilantro is added to brighten the party and bring the soup together. This soup is hearty, but not heavy. The clear broth is light but packed with subtly spiced chile flavor and the meatballs are tender and so flavorful with the cilantro and aromatics. This soup is so warming and with a super cheesy quesadilla on the side, it’s perfection on a cold day.

Cilantro-Chicken Meatball Soup

I find whole, dried New Mexico chiles in the international aisle of my regular supermarket. They are always affordable and pack a lot of flavor. The chiles vary in spiciness, but aren’t ever really super-hot-blow-your-top way. The spice is mild to medium, but you could certainly sub in your favorite chile powder. 

Meatballs:

1-2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if desired), minced

1 lb. ground chicken

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

salt/pepper

In a sauté pan heat olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook over medium until onions are tender and translucent  Scrape into a bowl and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl mix together the cooled onion/jalapeno mixture with the ground chicken, cilantro, egg, and breadcrumbs. Add salt (I used about 3/4 teaspoon) and pepper. Mix gently to combine well. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to shape and sear meatballs.

Soup:

meatballs

2 Tablespoons oil (I used grape seed, light olive or vegetable oil work too)

1/2 large onion, diced fine

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed if desired), sliced

4 dried New Mexico chiles

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 carrot, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

1 cup frozen corn kernels

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock

cilantro to garnish

salt and pepper to taste

Shape meatballs, I shoot for something that fits nicely in the spoon and can be eaten in one bite–think larger than a marble, but smaller than a cherry tomato. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat in the bottom of a dutch oven or soup pot. Sear the meatballs in batches until deep golden brown all around. Place seared meatballs in a dish and set aside.

Over a gas burner (you could also do this in a hot oven, it may take a few more minutes), lightly char the chiles–the idea is to make them extra dry for easier grinding and to add a touch of smokey flavor. Cool chiles and grind in a spice grinder to a medium-coarse powder. Mix chile powder with cumin and oregano in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the onion to the remaining oil and whatever brown bits are left in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and sauté, being sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan, add the carrots. Cook until onions are just translucent and carrots begin to soften, add the garlic and jalapeno, cook an additional minute. Stir in the ground chile and other spices. Add the corn, zucchini, meatballs, and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, taste for salt and season as needed. Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and meatballs are heated through. Serve hot with additional cilantro for garnish.

 

 

Easy + Light Potato Soup

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Happy 2013, y’all!

As always, I am striving for balance in the new year. After weeks of hearty meals and many cookies, I’m realistic enough to know that while a few weeks of lighter meals may be on the horizon–I’ll never give up dessert.

So, in an effort to find and maintain some balance, I made you this soup. Actually, I’ve made this soup 5 times in the last 3 weeks. It’s so dang good and filling! It’s the first potato soup I have ever made, myself. A lot of recipes call for cream or half-and-half, but when it comes to dinner, I struggle with the thought of consuming cups of either as part of a balanced meal. Instead, I subbed in reduced-fat milk, making the bulk of the soup with stock. There are some vegetables in there for good measure–and I bet you could sub some of the potatoes with cauliflower with great results. Even without the heavy dairy, this soup is creamy and satisfying. Topping the soup with some choice garnishes–bacon, green onions, and greek yogurt, in this case–make this simple potato soup a totally flavorful and filling meal.

Easy Potato Soup

Serves 4-6

I use reduced-fat milk in this recipe with great results, but to keep it from separating once it boils, I mix the cold milk with cornstarch to bind it. 

2-2.5 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-1/4 inch cubes

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 celery stalk, diced fine

1 carrot, diced fine

1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, diced fine

3 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups stock (I like to use either vegetable or chicken)

2 cups reduced-fat milk (I used 2%)

1.5 Tablespoons cornstarch

Garnishes I’m into: crisp bacon, green onions or chives, cheese, sour cream or greek yogurt, roasted tomatoes, croutons.

Place the peeled and diced potatoes in a large bowl of cool water, to prevent from oxidizing. Set aside.

Measure out the milk and whisk in the cornstarch, to combine and dissolve completely. Set aside.

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion, sprinkle lightly with salt and sweat until translucent and tender–about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook another minute. Drain and add the potatoes, followed by the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer–taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if desired–and cook for about 15 minutes–or until the potatoes are very tender. Turn off the heat and using an immersion blender (or regular blender), blend the milk/cornstarch mixture into the soup. Continue to blend until the soup is smooth and creamy. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer to keep warm until ready to serve.

Garnish as desired.

Black Bean Soup

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There was a time in my life when I wasn’t a super fan of black beans.

I don’t know what I was thinking. In my defense, it was during my headstrong, misguided youth days…I really don’t think we should be held accountable for once being teens. It’s a confusing time, okay? and, now, we know better…right?

Anyway, memories of misguided youth aside, I am a big fan of black beans now and black bean soup is one of my current favorites. Starting with dried beans takes some time, so make this on a weekend. The pot of beans simmers for hours with a few, lightly charred aromatics and makes your house smell like savory magic. Such a humble bean packs SO MUCH FLAVOR. It’s just all about dried-bean-alchemy over here.

Black Bean Soup

I start with dried beans here, I think it really is worth the effort, but I bet you could adapt this with canned beans and have this soup in a fraction of the time. Dried beans can be fickle and depending on how old they are, they can take as little as 2 hours, up to 6 or more to become tender. If you want to go the OG route, and you forget to pre-soak your legumes the night before (I often do), just start an hour earlier and put your beans in a pot, boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, turn off that heat, and let it sit for an hour. Viola! Pre-soaked beans. Boom. This recipe is fine with languishing on the stove for hours, and reheats wonderfully as well. 

8 ounces dried black beans

water to cover

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed (leave some in for some heat), and roughly chopped

1/2 onion, roughly chopped

1 small shallot, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, smashed

kosher salt, to taste

1-2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock, to thin.

Garnishes: Avocado, cheese, sour cream, onions, tomatoes, radishes, cilantro, and crisp tortillas are all favorites.

The night before, place the beans in a bowl and cover with a few inches of water. In the morning drain the beans and set aside.

In the pot you would like to cook the soup in, heat olive oil over high heat, once the oil begins to shimmer, add the jalapeño, onion, and shallot, cook over high heat until some of the edges get dark brown and the vegetables begin to soften. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute, stirring so as not to burn the garlic. Add the beans and enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add salt to taste, and continue to simmer 1-3 more hours, checking water level (don’t let it boil off completely)–until beans are very tender.

Remove from heat and using an immersion blender (or a regular blender) blend the soup, adding stock to thin to desired consistency. Reheat to a simmer before serving. Garnish as desired.