cooking minette’s italian wedding soup

how to make a delicious gluten free italian wedding soup {sort of} with lots of yummy meatballs and baby kale:

gluten free italian meatball soup with organic meatballs & baby kale

what do you do when you find yourself with a huge bag of beautiful organic baby kale you couldn’t resist buying at the store? you think about all sorts of ways you might use said kale in foods and salads before it goes bad (we’re talking a HUGE bag). if you’re me, for some odd reason, you think about a steaming hot bowl of italian wedding soup loaded with luscious meatballs. and then you go from there-starting the meatballs by combining a few simple ingredients in a bowl: organic (grass fed) ground beef, thinly sliced scallions, chopped italian parsley, sea salt, pepper, a touch of smoked paprika (just because), and just a hit of chick pea flour (or corn flour). once you’ve rolled the little meatballs and added them to a pot of sizzling minced onions in olive oil, you are almost there. it’s been cold out there this winter (in most areas of the world)-take heart: this soup truly warms you inside and out. better start rolling those meatballs!

ingredients for 4 servings of minette’s italian wedding soup:

  • cooking minette's meatballs for soup1 pound organic ground beef (or turkey)-preferably 7% fat only
  • 1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
  • a bunch of scallions (green onions) finely sliced (6-8)
  • a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste (for salt, per bon appetit: as a rule, about 1 tsp per pound will make for perfectly salted meatballs)
  • 2-3 tsp chickpea flour (or corn flour)-some might add breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional) or cayenne pepper for spicy
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (roma tomatoes are good) finely cubed
  • 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1.5-2 cups of organic baby kale (adjust amount to taste, or substitute with spinach if you prefer)
  • 1/2-1 cup italian gluten fee (or your choice) orzo
  • 3 cups preferably homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • good freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. cooking minette's gluten free italian wedding soupmake the meatballs by combining meat, scallions, 2/3rds of the parsley, sea salt & freshly ground pepper, smoked paprika, and chick pea flour in a bowl and mixing by hand (use gloves)-the light touch of your hands incorporates all the ingredients without crushing the meat. don’t over-mix into a paste–full pieces of ground meat should still be visible. add a few teaspoons of water if necessary. gluten free orzo for souproll little balls (bite size is best for soup) out of the mixture and set aside on a plate.
  2. heat the oil in a dutch oven, add onions and fry on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes before adding the meatballs carefully and allowing them to brown on one side (medium heat) before turning them carefully to brown the other.baby kale in soup
  3. when the meatballs and onions are browned, add 3-4 cups of water and three cups of broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the meatballs to cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. add cubed tomatoes (or stewed tomatoes from a jar) and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. add the orzo and allow it to cook until they plump up and become tender, then add the remaining parsley and the kale. add a little more broth to the pot if necessary, then cook for another 15 minutes. add the lemon juice (to taste) before serving. taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  7. buon appetito!cooking minette's italian wedding soup

 

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my noosi’s dill herbed rice {شوید پلو} with black-eyed peas {loobia cheshm bolboli}: shevid polow

 

persian style dill herbed rice with blackened peasas soon as i saw the beautifully green bunches of fresh dill at the market i knew what i wanted (or almost had) to make with them. dill-herbed rice, or shevid-polow as we call it in farsi. dill is one of my absolute favorite herbs i can never resist buying when it is in season looking all fresh and darkish green and beautiful. i love the scent it creates and leaves in my kitchen as i chop it, and the slightly different aroma that surrounds me as it steams away with the basmati rice. [talking

black eyed peas and rice

about scents and aromas reminds me of a side note: this post on the lovely perfume blog kafkaesque references mine on baghali polow, another dish loaded with fresh dill]. as with most my food obsessions, i first fell in love with dill in my grandmother’s kitchen in Tehran-it seems to me she was always chopping herbs-or maybe i was so often around when she did, because i loved watching (and smelling) her doing it so much. it was the way she bunched them tightly together with one hand while gracefully slicing them ever so thinly with the other. she was a true expert with the knife. and so many other things. thinking back on it, hers was not a sophisticated kitchen with many fancy gadgets-but trust me when i tell you some serious magic happened there. and boy was i lucky to be a small part of it as taster/assistant/taster/observer/taster in chief.

finely chopped dill even though i didn’t fully realize it then, she was constantly, indirectly, and deliberately teaching me things every time i was with her.  i can hear her voice in my head: sharing, reminding, cautioning, praising, cautioning some more. one of the dishes she taught me was shevid polow layered with her favorite beans: black-eyed peas, or “cheshm bolboli” (translates to parrot eyes for obvious reasons). It is the type of absolutely delicious nourishing dish that reminds you of all good things and fills you with pure (stomach) contentment. well worth the work and the wait.

how to make shevid polow  {for 4-6}:

  • making persian rice with herbs2-2.5 cups finely chopped fresh dill (remove the thicker stalks, wash, allow dill to dry, then chop)
  • 2-3 cups basmati rice, washed several times in water until it runs clear
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dry rose petals (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron
  • 1-1.5  cups black-eyed peas, cooked (soak overnight and cook until just tender)
  • sea salt to taste (and for boiling the rice)

persian steamed rice with herbs

    1. bring a big pot (non stick) of salted water to boil (about 6-8 cups). add washed and drained basmati rice. allow it to come to a rolling boil and  keep the heat on high for about 7-9 minutes. turn off the heat and drain the rice in a mesh colander. wash with cold water and allow it to drain. also see this recipe for inspiration.
    2. add about 3-4 tbs of vegetable oil, 2-3 tsp of water and 1/2 of the ground saffron (or 4-6 saffron strands seeped in hot water) to the nonstick pan. heat together for 1-2 minutes on high. remove from heat and add a thin layer of rice, followed by a generous layer of dill and black-eyed peas (see pictures above). sprinkle evenly and lightly with cumin seeds, sea salt to taste, and cinnamon. (with your hands or a spatula) carefully combine everything together as you go.
    3. repeat this process until your ingredients are used and you have created a “dome” or pyramid of layers. top with remaining saffron and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, cumin seeds, and rose petals. drizzle with another 3-4 tbs of oil (using a slotted spatula to evenly distribute) and about 1/4 cup of water.
    4. cover the pot first with a paper towel or clean dishtowel and then tightly with the lid. Heat the pot on high for about 8-10 minutes (stay close to the pot)-this will help create the favorite crispy rice (tag-deeg) at the bottom of the pot. reduce the heat after 10 minutes (at most) to med/low and allow the rice to steam for another 45 minutes to an hour. serve with saffron braised chicken, veal or lamb shanks and a shirazi salad (tomatoes, persian cucumbers, green onions, mint, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & pepper).

shevid polow tahdeeg

 

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