I don’t know about you, but after the holidays (and by that I mean beginning back around, oh, Halloween), I think I’d rather fast than face one more large, rich meal. I’m craving clean flavors. Satisfying textures. Something I can consume slowly, with some bright goodness in each bite. And since today is Monday, here is a “meatball” soup that you might just be able to prepare right out of your pantry, depending on your pantry. Now there’s a subject for a subsequent post.
I cook for one most nights. I simply seal the leftover “meatballs” in a ziplock bag and toss it into the freezer. I pull out as many as I need and nuke them, along with a bit of stock or water, until just right. The other day I quartered a few and scattered them over a salad garnished with Kalamata olives and Feta cheese, all tossed in a mandarin orange vinaigrette. So good!
As for the soup, I think it would also be lovely served chilled on a summer evening. Which tonight is definitely not. It’s snowing as we speak, and the temp might get all the way to 11 degrees today. Winter has finally arrived. The cauliflower purées to a heavenly, silken consistency, while the spinach punches up the color factor. And just wait till you taste the whole combination with the bright touch of lemon! You’ll practically want to bathe in it, it’s so good.
FOR THE “MEATBALLS”
1 small yellow onion, diced (or 1/2 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup walnut pieces
10-12 large sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup Panko (or your own ground bread crumbs, or leftover quinoa, rice, or risotto)
15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
Zest of 1 lemon (Meyer, if possible)
1 large egg
Sea or kosher salt & pepper
FOR THE SOUP
1 head cauliflower divided into small florets
24 ounces chicken or vegetable stock (your own is best, but a good organic one will do)
2 generous handfuls spinach, stems removed
Juice of 1 lemon (Meyer, if possible)
Additional stock if needed for consistency
Sea or kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil for garnish
Crumbled Feta cheese for garnish
Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Film the bottom of a medium skillet with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt. Sauté until softened. Add the garlic, walnut pieces, cardamom, sage leaves and Panko (or bread crumbs). Sauté, stirring often, until walnuts and garlic are fragrant, and Panko takes on a toasted color, about 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer contents of skillet to bowl of a food processor. Add the garbanzo beans and lemon zest, and pulse until well blended, but not puréed. Add the egg and pulse until nearly a paste-like consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment. I use a small ice cream scoop that’s about 1 1/2” in diameter (#30) to scoop the “meatballs.” If you don’t have one, use a soup spoon to scoop up about the same amount, and roll them between your palms to round (you may need to dip your palms in some flour). You should get about 16, and all will fit on one baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes, rotating at the halfway point. They want to be a bit firm, and have a nice crust on the outside. While they are baking, prepare the soup.
- Trim the cauliflower. Quarter the larger florets. Add the cauliflower florets and the stock to a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce heat to an active simmer. Cook until they are very tender (pierce a stem with a paring knife), about 15 minutes.
- When cauliflower is very soft, add the spinach. Replace the lid and steam until spinach has wilted, about 5-7 more minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat. This is a job for an immersion blender. Add the lemon juice and purée the soup right in the pot until it is as smooth as possible. Add stock as needed; the consistency wants to be pourable, not thick. Alternatively, use a food processor, or a blender. Though if the latter, be careful, as hot liquids tend to take on a life of their own in a blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve in pasta bowls. Pour a couple of ladles of soup in the bottom of each one. Think shallow end of the pool; you don’t want the “meatballs” to drown. Add 3 to 4 “meatballs” to each bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over, garnish with Feta, and please don’t forget the parsley!
- Serve with some good bread so you don’t leave a drop of soup behind.