I have loved this recipe from the first day I made it. It’s delicious, it’s beautiful and it lends itself to many variations. In other words, it’s just my kind of recipe – I love when a recipe invites you to tinker with it.
The meatballs in this soup have enough flavor to stand up to just about anything — it’s all the ginger, garlic, herbs and onion in them. These are exactly the flavors and scents you want with the soup, a broth that starts out simple and gets more interesting with each addition. First you use it as a poaching liquid for the meatballs, then you drop in lots of vegetables — the choice is yours, but I like to include some strong greens, like mustard, kale and cabbage — and more herbs. Finally there are the noodles, for texture and flavor, of course, but also for fun: Who doesn’t love slurping, which seems to be the only way to eat rice noodles? Even with all that goes into the soup, I like to add more — soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and hot sauce are my druthers. While you can pour as much of these as you’d like into the pot just before serving, I leave the soup as is and put the add-ins on the table, so that each slurper can decide on the best combo and quantity.
GINGERED-TURKEY MEATBALL SOUP
Makes 4 to 6 servings
For the meatballs
1 large egg
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) plain yogurt, preferably Greek
1⁄2 cup (about 113 grams) finely chopped onion, rinsed and patted dry
1⁄2 cup (20 grams) chopped fresh cilantro, basil or a mix
1⁄2 cup (30 grams) unseasoned dry bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, germ removed, and finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound (454 grams) ground turkey, preferably organic
21⁄2 quarts (21⁄3 liters) chicken broth
For the soup
1⁄2 pound (227 grams) rice noodles (sticks or straight- cut)
About 4 cups (about 600 grams) chopped, sliced and/ or shredded mixed vegetables, such as peeled carrots, onions, mushrooms, cabbage (Napa or green), mustard greens, kale and/or spinach
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1⁄3 cup (13 grams) chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, parsley and/or mint
Soy sauce, Asian sesame oil, rice vinegar and Sriracha, for serving
WORKING AHEAD: You can make the meatballs ahead. Uncooked, they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. Once cooked, you can refrigerate them in some broth for up to 4 days or freeze them in an airtight bag for up to 2 months. The broth can be made up to 4 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Put the egg in a large bowl and stir with a fork to break it up. Add all the remaining ingredients except the turkey and broth and lightly stir, toss and mix to blend. Add the meat and, using the fork and then your fingers, turn and mix — again, go easy — until blended.
Using a medium cookie scoop (one with a capacity of about 11⁄2 tablespoons) or a tablespoon, scoop out meat- balls (you’ll get 24 to 30), then roll them between your palms to round them. (At this point, you can cover the meatballs and refrigerate them for up to 6 hours, or freeze them on a lined baking sheet until they’re solid, then pack them in an airtight bag.)
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot, then lower the heat so that it simmers.
Drop the meatballs into the broth and, keeping it at a light, steady simmer, poach them, turning them over once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. You’ll probably want to do this in batches. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a large bowl. The broth will be a little murky. If you’d like it to be clearer, line a strainer with dampened cheesecloth (or a triple layer of dampened paper towels) and pour the broth through it into a bowl; rinse out the pot. (You can put the meatballs in a container and freeze them for up to 2 months. Or cover with broth and refrigerate for up to 4 days; refrigerate the remainder of the broth separately.)
TO MAKE THE SOUP: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the rice noodles and cook for 4 minutes, then drain and transfer the noodles to a large bowl. Cover with cold water, toss in a few ice cubes and set aside until needed.
Bring the broth to a boil in the pot, then lower the heat so that it simmers. If your meatballs have been frozen, drop them into the broth and cook for 10 minutes; if chilled, cook for about 5 minutes; and if just made, sim- ply drop them in. Add the vegetables to the pot and sim- mer for about 5 minutes. (If you’re using carrots, they’ll remain slightly firm.) Drain the noodles, add them to the pot and cook until hot — they’ll heat very quickly. Taste for salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup, noodles and meatballs into deep bowls, dividing them equally. Sprinkle over the herbs and serve with the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar and Sriracha. Encourage everyone to season to taste.
STORING: Once you’ve loaded the soup with all its add-ins, it is best served that day.
CHOICES: With these meatballs in the freezer, I feel like I’m ready for anything. They’re great with pasta, stirred into a stewy bean dish, served as the main event with a side of vegetables or sliced and laid out on a roll (think sub or grinder, depending on where you live) and slathered with Sriracha and mayo — don’t forget crisp lettuce.