Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lighter Fare

I love soup. Even on obscenely hot days that make you wish you were part Eskimo, I am still likely to consider eating or cooking soup. I work in a turbo air conditioned high rise in NYC where the cooling system helps you forget the sticky, musty and all around icky feeling of the morning's commute, but also has you wrapped in a blanket and drinking hot chocolate by lunchtime. So it's no surprise that even though I work up quite a sweat on the walk to work, I'm usually wearing 8 layers and craving a warm bowl of soup on your average summer weekday. The cafeteria can't always be counted on the satiate my appetite and provide exactly what I crave, so occasionally I have to wait until I can make my own meal to put together what I want to eat.

I found myself really wanting both a light summer soup (because it is 85 degrees out, after all) but also something hearty. I got to thinking about Italian wedding soup, which is mostly just a chicken or vegetable broth with meatballs and Parmesan cheese. If I could find a way to make the soup refreshing but filling I'd be set with exactly what I was looking for. So, I decided to make a lemon broth and super teeny tiny (and quick and easy) Parmesan meatballs. It turned out great, and the soup was in fact quite refreshing and the meatballs were tiny, light, meaty morsels. I ended up eating the entire two-person portion (which isn't at all unusual, come to think of it) and didn't even touch the salad I'd made on the side. The meatballs are quicker and lighter than the ones I usually make and are the perfect size to eat with a spoonful of broth. I top the whole thing with julienned iceberg lettuce for some refreshing crunch, and mix in a heap of Parmesan cheese for saltiness. Here's the recipe I came up with:

Lemon Broth with Easy Parmesan Meatballs

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon

3/4 lb ground beef
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 cup milk
vegetable oil (or your favorite light oil)
1 cup julienned iceberg lettuce

1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot and add all of the lemon juice . Simmer on low heat until meatballs are ready.

2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl along with a pinch of lemon zest and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Form mixture into small meatballs no more than an inch in diameter.

3. Heat oil in a skillet and cook meatballs until browned on each side and just slightly undercooked in the center (about a minute on each side).

4. Turn heat up to medium and add meatballs to broth along with lemon zest. Cook for about 2 minutes them serve soup and meatballs topped with iceberg lettuce and grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


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