Soup for Happiness and Dinner

Meatball and Yogurt ChowderREZCC My good friend Deborah Madison was in town to talk about her magnificent new book Vegetable Literacy and we got a chance to catch up and talk about the food state-of-affairs.  For Deborah, she was sick of hearing about farm-to-table and for me I roll my eyes when I hear mass hysteria in the form of the anti-gluten fad.  I’m old enough to have seen a lot when it comes to food fads: remember low-carb?  When I was a child in the 1950s canned vegetables was the healthiest thing you could eat because it was “safe.” Times change but fear of food does not.

Deborah asked ”what about cooking!”  I added, “yeah, cooking, just plain simple cooking, why doesn’t anybody talk about cooking.”  There has through history always been obsession when it came to food and these obsessions, fads, fears, and hysteria are usually associated with the health of the body. But let’s not forget the joy food gives to the mind evidenced when we use words like “delicious” or “aromatic.”

So now that the weather gets cooler let’s wipe our minds clear and cook.  Just plain simple cooking.  Soup for dinner is a great idea.  Don’t worry about anything; enjoy this delicious chowder with its Middle Eastern inspiration.

Meatball and Yogurt Chowder

This exceedingly simple preparation can be whipped up in about 30 minutes. It will surprise you because you’ll think you’re tasting far more spices and ingredients than are actually in the chowder. At the end you need to be careful that the yogurt doesn’t cook too much, as it will curdle, so only keep it on the stove long enough to heat it, then serve immediately.

5 cups water

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup brown lentils

2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

10 ounces baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup chopped fresh dill

3 cups plain yogurt, whipped with a fork

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat with the chickpeas. Add the lentils, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the pepper and boil, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the beef, onion, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and form into walnut-size meatballs.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the meatballs in the soup and stir to coat them. Cook the meatballs, turning occasionally, for 15 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to low. Add the spinach and dill and cook, stirring and folding gently to immerse the leaves without breaking the meatballs, for another 5 minutes. Stir in the yogurt and cook only until it is heated through, about 2 minutes. Correct the seasoning if necessary then serve.

Makes 4 servings

Comments

  1. Roxann Nowlan says:

    Listened to you on NPR, and was impressed! Just ordered your one pot cookbook, and looking forward to cooking up here in northwest Wisconsin!

    Thanks for a great show.

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