Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tomato Soup with Meatballs

A few days ago, my hubby forwarded me a link in an email to a recipe from Mark's Daily Apple. Usually when I say "What would you like for dinner?" I get "Oh I don't know, whatever" as the response. So when I got the email, I knew it must have sounded good to him. And I'm always down to try something new. Today I'll be taking a look at Mr. Sisson's yummy recipe, and including my own little tweaks here and there. And I was recently informed that this soup is a winner. Hubby not only said he loved it, but he went back for seconds and kept eating the meatballs as I made them. So it must be good...

This is the original recipe. And rather than cut and paste it here, I suggest checking it out over there first. His recipe is perfectly good. I have no issues with it. Other than I don't have oregano and I like my tomato soup creamy. To combat those two things, I added a few things to an otherwise great recipe.

For the soup, you will need:

1 medium onion, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic or 2 tsp of crushed garlic
2tbsp butter or coconut oil (or your choice of fat)
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh basil
1 sprig of fresh parsley (flat or curly, I used flat from my garden)
7 whole tomatoes
1c water
1c coconut milk (from a carton, the canned stuff will be a bit thick)
2-3 tbsp tomato paste (I used the other half of the can from the shrimp recipe)
1tsp salt
1tsp Worchestershire sauce
ground pepper to taste

Put your sliced onions and shallots into the bottom of a stock pot with your butter or fat of choice. I like to use butter. It's a family tradition. And it makes things taste creamier to me. Whether that's real or the placebo effect, who knows. But still, my vote is for butter. Cook them for about 5-10 minutes, like Mr. Sisson suggests. You want them to be fully cooked. In the many cooking lessons I learned from my family, I was taught that adding tomatoes to a soup would stop the cooking process of other vegetables, an important consideration when making chowder in a ginormous drum in the garage. That's how we roll in Western New York. Again, maybe an old wives' tale, but I wasn't about to put it to the test with this freaking amazing soup. When the onions/shallots are almost done, add the garlic. My garlic always burns, so I put it in last. 
Then add your basil, parsley and whole tomatoes. Mark's recipe uses canned tomatoes, which rocks. I'm all for making things easier and quicker. But I bought the tomatoes before reading his recipe, so I used fresh ones. Then add your water. Put the lid on the pot and let this cook down for 30 minutes or so on medium heat. In the last ten minutes, add your coconut milk, salt, Worchestershire sauce and ground pepper. You could probably throw the spices in at the beginning, but whatevs. It's your soup. Make it your way. Add other spices or not as you choose.

Now, after the tomatoes break down, shedding their skins and turning less vibrant in color, your soup is pretty much done. Put it through a blender or food processor in batches and return it to the pot to simmer, or put it in tupperware for the freezer when it cools.

The best part of this soup is probably the meatball. Little bite sized chunks of flavored meat. AND this probably is the one and only recipe I've made in forever that could potentially be kosher friendly. You could use just ground sirloin, ground chicken or turkey... pretty much any other meat other than pork. And that's really saying something, because I literally make EVERYTHING with pork or pork products (or shellfish, all of which are so not kosher...). So, for my Jewish friend(s), bon appetit!

For the meatballs, you will need:

1 sliced shallot
3tsp crushed garlic or 3-4 cloves minced
2tsp coconut oil
1lb ground pork (optional!)
1lb ground sirloin (you can use regular ground beef, but I'd suggest ground sirloin if you can get it)
1tsp Worchestershire sauce
1tsp salt
ground pepper
1tsp fennel seed, chopped roughly or ground to powder
1/4c chopped basil
2 eggs

Fry the shallots and garlic (at the same time if you can stand and watch it so the garlic doesn't burn) in the coconut oil (or fat of your choice). Cook until the shallots are translucent. Then, when that mixture is completely cooled, put all the ingredients together into a big bowl. Mush them around with your hands, kneading it like dough or squeezing it like it insulted your mother, making sure to incorporate everything. I love eating with my hands and playing with my food, so this part is pure heaven for me... Now, when everything is mixed up nice and good, make tiny bite sized meatballs. Like smaller than you think you should make them. You can't really make them too small, I guess. You're meant to scoop one up with a spoonful of soup, so they shouldn't require multiple bites to eat them. Anyway, if you make them ginormous, good on ya. Again, it's your damn soup. Make them however you want and own it. Fry those baby meatballs in a pan until they're browned on the outside. I found you don't need extra fat because the pork fat pretty much keeps everything coated. If you use ground chicken or turkey or a lean meat, you may need some fat of choice to fry them. I wouldn't suggest olive oil. I think it's gross to cook with. But if you like it, knock yourself out.

Now, put some meatballs in your soup. Take fancy pictures for the internet. Then tear into that bowl like you've never eaten. And voila, you have a fantastic soup that is surprisingly refreshing even in 80 degree heat. 

You could also chill the soup, and put the hot meatballs in it, like a gazpacho (talk about an awesome word). There are any number of ways you can take these recipes and make them your own. Like it spicy? Add ground chili powder, red pepper flakes, chopped up peppers of your choice, to pretty much any part of this recipe and BAM that sh*t is on fire. I am a big wuss and cannot eat spicy things. My husband could probably use sriracha toothpaste and be a happy camper. So season it to make yourself happy. The ingredients above are like the Pirate's Code: they're really just guidelines.


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