15 February 2012

A Hearty Soup for Winter Dinners

This post has been sitting in pictures, just waiting for me to narrate. Thanks to a friend, I was reminded today that I should share this meal idea online. We had this meal a couple of months ago, but it's definitely a repeat performance waiting to happen!

While soup is enjoyed in our household year-round, winter seems to be the best time to create a hearty recipe that warms you on the inside. This creation can probably be called Soupy Meaty Hearty Goodness, or just Meatball Lentil Soup...
We'll start with the ground beef from our fabulous meat CSA. I seasoned it with paprika, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Next, I added one egg and a couple of tablespoons of panko (bread crumbs). I had a dutch oven heating up on medium high heat while I formed the meatballs. 

The meatballs went into a drizzle of olive oil to brown on all sides. 
Yes, you have to actually turn them after they've browned!
While the meatballs brown, you can start chopping the vegetables. I chopped half of a large white onion that I already had, a couple of green tomatoes (I honestly don't remember why we had green tomatoes during this time, but they were good!), a large tomato from the grocery store that didn't taste like much anyway, and some kale.

After the meatballs have browned on all sides, remove the meatballs and set them aside nearby. Add a little bit of oil to the pot if you need to (I usually do because the CSA meat is so lean) and throw in the onions. Get them sweating in the pot, then add liquid in order to deglaze the pot. I used water, the last bit of a vegetable juice that I had, and a cup or so of beef stock. I also added a smidge of tomato paste that I keep in the refrigerator (it's in a tube so I can squeeze some in and put it away).
After adding the liquid, bring it to a low boil, then add your lentils to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. The total simmer time is usually around 30 minutes, but you'll want to add your tomatoes and kale for the last 5-10, depending on how tender you want them.
I served up the soup with some pita wedges and garlic hummus. A nice local syrah came with our dinner guests and made a great pairing. Thanks to my sister and her Mike! 
This meal was so hearty, so rich in flavor and substance that I would suggest making it for your family. Tweak the ingredients and simmer in whatever liquid suits you, but you can't go wrong with meatballs, lentils, a sturdy green and a tomato base.