Soup in the summer? You’re probably asking, “Are you crazy?” The quick answer is, “Yeah, sort of. Isn’t everybody, to some extent?” While not the response you may have expected, my thought here is that it’s August, and it isn’t possible to grill every night. There has to be some variation in what’s for dinner. But the idea remains the same for most August cooking: keep it simple and limit the time spent in your kitchen. This Asian-themed broth, infused with star anise, coriander seeds, and a hint of serrano pepper, balances well with what I call casual veal meatballs; they’re casual because, thanks to an egg, you don’t have to preform them. Throw in some veggies (for health and color), add a mound of somen noodles (for comfort), and dinner is ready without you having to sweat it . . . too much.
Asian Veal Meatball Noodle Soup Recipe
12 oz ground veal
4 T light soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
3 oz water
6 cups beef stock
1 T whole allspice
1 T whole coriander seeds
2 star anise pods
1 serrano pepper, seeded and sliced
2 stalks celery, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
2 cups pre-washed mixed greens (I like a clamshell called “Power Greens,” which includes spinach, chard, and kale)
2 bundles somen noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained
enoki mushrooms, washed and trimmed, for garnish
To prepare the meatballs:
Combine veal, egg, soy sauce, oil, pepper, ginger, and water in a medium bowl. Mix with your hands to combine, stirring. Let meat marinate for 15 minutes.
For broth and meatballs:
In large pot, combine beef broth, spices, and serrano pepper. Bring to boil. Cover and let simmer to infuse flavors, about 20 minutes. Strain broth to remove spices.
Return broth to low simmer. Using a teaspoon, gently slip spoonfuls of meat mixture into simmering broth, trying to keep meatballs from touching. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Add greens, stirring gently, and continue simmering an additional 5 minutes, or until meat no longer is pink.
To prepare vegetables:
In medium skillet, warm sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add celery and carrots and stir fry until vegetables begin to brown. Remove from heat.
To assemble bowls:
Warm shallow bowls. Place a swirl of somen noodles. Add vegetables and meatballs. Ladle broth over, and garnish with enoki mushrooms.
What’s the perfect wine to serve with hot soup on a warm summer day? Stephanie Davis, wine educator and developer of Albarello products says a chilled white, of course! She recommends Vouvray, an under-appreciated wine style from France’s Loire Valley, made with Chenin Blanc grapes. Domaine Huet, Clos du Bourg Sec complements savory dishes like this Asian-themed soup and is priced about $28/bottle.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, because living brings its own humor, angst and heroism. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @where she hopes you’ll find illumination of the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Vodka and recipes optional.