Earlier this week I posted a dish inspired by fall. Not very timely, though I hear it’s still snowing in some parts. In an effort to be more season-appropriate, I made a spring soup with a light broth, mini meatballs and fresh asparagus.
For the meatballs, I ground the pork myself from some cutlets. I also threw some turkey bacon in the food processor for that smoky depth and rounded it all out with fennel seeds and crushed red pepper. I’d never ground my own meat before, and honestly, it was a cinch. Just place everything in the food processor and run it for a minute or two. It’s a lot fluffier (for lack of a better word) than the compacted stuff you get at the butcher counter, and I bet freshly ground beef is the key to the perfect burger.
Anyway, nothing says spring like crisp asparagus. Washed and sliced, it went in at the last minute along with some lemon juice. The soup was somehow light and hearty at the same time. All it needed was a nice heap of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a big spoon.
Spring Asparagus Soup with Mini Meatballs
To make this vegetarian, simply omit the meatballs. Add the fennel seeds and crushed red pepper to the broth to retain the flavor. You may also want to add some croutons or toasted walnuts at the last minute for some bulk.
3/4 lb. ground pork
6 slices ground bacon (turkey or regular)
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 cubes vegetable bullion
5 cups water
30 oz. canned great northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 lb. asparagus, washed and sliced into pieces as thick as a chapstick cap
juice of 1/2 lemon
Parmesan cheese for grating
good olive oil for drizzling
Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the water and buillion cubes and let simmer until the cubes dissolve. In the meantime, mix the ground pork, ground bacon, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt together in a medium bowl until evenly distributed.
Using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop the ground pork mixture and form mini-meatballs, dropping them into the broth as you make them. Once they’re all in there, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the beans and rice and cook for another 5 minutes. Be careful not to stir too much as you don’t want to break up the meatballs. Finally, add the asparagus and lemon juice and simmer for 5 more minutes.
To serve, ladle from the bottom of the pot since the meatballs, rice and beans sink and the asparagus floats. Top off with drizzle of good olive oil and a generous heap of grated Parmesan cheese.