The recipes that have been populating this blog lately are definitely in our “weekend” category. Truth be told, we do not eat ribs, cheesecake and cookies on the average Monday through Thursday. For the most part, our everyday meals are things I’ve already told you about (like this, which I baked on Sunday morning; this, our weekly installment of Salad Monday; this, which went straight into tupperware, brown bag lunches and our bellies; and this, which was just the re-fuel I needed after I nearly died during my first Bikram yoga class on Tuesday).
Sundays, though, exist in a kind of purgatory between week and weekend. If you ask Kevin, who has a chronic case of Sunday Blues, it’s depressingly closer to week than weekend. But, cooking-wise, I never feel quite right making a plain ol’ weeknight meal on a Sunday night. I’m not about to undertake homemade pasta, mind you. But I still like to end the weekend with something at least a little special.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
To me, this recipe—Gourmet‘s Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs—qualifies as the perfect Sunday meal. The odds are quite low that I’d feel up to rolling tiny meatballs after a long day of class, putting it staunchly outside the realm of weeknight cooking. But, on the other hand, the soup didn’t suck away all of our last, precious hours of weekend by requiring an afternoon at the stove, making it ideal for a Sunday. And with plunging (swan diving, truly) temperatures, soup is exactly what this Sunday called for. And a fire. And never leaving the apartment. Ever.
Even though this recipe called for very simple ingredients and even though Sunday is our grocery shopping day, I managed to drop the ball (ha!) on several ingredients. I couldn’t find escarole at either of our grocery stores. And the meat counter was out of ground turkey. And I flat out forgot the fresh rosemary (because I was sure I had some in the fridge). So, what was meant to be Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs became Swiss Chard and Kale Soup with Chicken Meatballs, sans rosemary. I also decided to delete the orzo and substitute white beans. Oh, and I skipped the meatball browning and instead dropped them into the soup to cook. Even desecrating this recipe so, I was confident it would be tasty. That confidence began to slip at the greens, beans and broth stage. The soup looked downright sad and a small taste nearly had me Googling the number for our favorite pizza place. But I forged on through the blandness and plunked the (quite cute) meatballs in, which seemed to perk the soup up a bit. Even still, I envisioned us fishing out the meatballs and avoiding the beans and greens.
I’m so thankful, though, that I didn’t throw in the towel. Because the last step in this recipe (swirling in a garlic paste and a squeeze of lemon juice) completely brought this soup together—brightening, deepening and enriching it. The soup was earthy and hearty, with a subtle lemony twang. And the miniscule meatballs, which were light and laced with minced scallions, were the perfect punctuation. A wonderful bridge from the weekend to the, ugh, week.
Escarole Soup with Turkey Meatballs
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound escarole (about 1/2 head), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch
strips, washed well, and spun dry (about 6 cups packed)**
3 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta) or other small pasta***
1/4 pound ground turkey****
3 tablespoons fine fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk
1 scallion, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a large heavy saucepan cook onion and rosemary in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add escarole, stirring to coat with oil, and cook, covered, 1 minute. Add broth and orzo and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
Make meatballs while soup simmers:*****
In a bowl combine well all meatball ingredients except oil and season with salt and pepper. Form mixture into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. In a heavy 9-inch skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown meatballs about 3 minutes (meatballs will not be cooked through).
Add meatballs to soup and simmer, partially covered, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic paste, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
* As mentioned above, I forgot to buy rosemary, so I went with the thyme I had on hand.
** No escarole in the market, so I went with kale and Swiss chard.
*** I went with canned white beans, in lieu of orzo.
**** Why stop there with all the alterations, right? So instead of browning the meatballs, I dropped them into the soup (along with the broth and beans) to cook.