I love soup. It’s pretty much the ultimate in Slacker Dinner: toss a bunch of stuff in a pot, and then simmer it until you’re hungry. My Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband, however, is convinced that soup is a plot. Food should not be runny, he believes, unless there is gravy. Broth, in general, does not count.
I’ve found a few he likes, such as Egg Drop and Baked Potato. Usually, though, my declaration that there is soup for dinner is his cue to stifle a groan, and be manly in front of the children. I’ve just added another to the mix, though, and thought I’d share. I’m sure it’s nothing new in the culinary world, but it was a Really Pleasant Vat of Soup, and I get very excited about things like that.
Bitty Meatball Soup
For the bitty meatballs, you’ll need:
- 1 pound ground (minced) beef
- a good handful of fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 1 tsp fresh minced garlic, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fine grated Parmesan cheese
- several good shakes of Worchestershire sauce (I really do like Lea & Perrins best)
- 1 egg
Moosh all this together, and roll 1/2 teaspoon portions into tiny, tiny, tiny meatballs, about 1/2″ across.
Quickly brown the meatballs in batches. You want to get some nice color on them and set the outsides, but not cook them through. They’ll finish cooking in the soup.
Remove the meatballs to a plate and set them aside for now.
Drain the pan liquids, fats, and browned bits into a cup, and reserve those for now.
For the rest of the soup, you’ll want a wide variety of veggies. Here’s what I used:
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine (it was a STRONG onion, or I’d have used a large onion instead.)
- 1 head of celery, chopped, reserving some leaves to mince for the last bit. My Spicy child did all the celery chopping for me. She’s very careful, and loves to help with Big Chef business.
- more garlic… 1 or more tablespoons of the stuff. We like garlic at our house, so tailor it to the less-vampire-repelling needs at your house if you desire.
- about 1 cup of thin-sliced carrots. I happened to have baby carrots in the fridge, so I just chopped them into thin coins. Parsnip coins would also be lovely, and would make my Boy a lot happier.
- 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced with the skin on. I used a small dice (1/4″ or so) so they would cook fairly quickly and not be a big visual feature of the soup. They release starch that helps thicken the broth, too.
- 1 pint of sliced green beans (or, use your families favorite canned bean variety. Slacker Soups are very flexible that way!)
- 4 nice fat mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
You’ll also need:
- 1 can tomato paste
- about 2 quarts beef broth
It looks like a lot of work, but once the prep is done, it assembles quickly.
Sautee the onion in a bit of olive oil plus about a teaspoon of the reserved beef dripping (which adds flavor–fats store flavor!) As the onion starts to turn golden, toss in the celery and garlic. When the garlic is getting fragrant, pour in the broth and whisk in about half the tomato paste. Then toss in the carrots, potatoes, and reserved meatballs. Let the soup simmer until the carrots are very, very nearly tender (never let the carrots turn to mush!)
The beans just need a quick heat-through, so add them at the last with the mushrooms, and balance the seasonings. Add a bit of fresh-ground black pepper, more tomato paste, a glug of Worchestershire, etc. Let it simmer all together about 10 minutes. If you want a thicker gravy, mix a few tablespoons of cornstarch with a bit of water, and drizzle that in.
Were you being a sweet spouse, and making buttermilk biscuits rather than cornbread (because your beloved prefers biscuits and you’re already pushing it by making him eat soup), you’d want to heat the oven when you start browning meatballs, and mix the biscuits as soon as you dump in the carrots and potatoes, with the goal of taking about 6 minutes to mix the biscuits and get them in the oven (do drop biscuits, not rolled and cut). By the time they’ve had 20 minutes to bake, you’ll be finishing up any last seasonings in the soup, and serving everything hot.
And if you do it right, The Boy and the Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband will fight over the leftovers for breakfast and lunch the next day.
Rebel against factory-produced soup.