Carve out an hour on the weekend to make this chicken meatball soup and enjoy it all week. Tender chicken meatballs, parsnips, and potatoes simmered in a flavorful broth make this weekend cooking project well worth the effort.
Chicken Meatball Soup
It’s been six months since I’ve shared a soup recipe, a fact I learned after sifting through old posts over the last year. Two thoughts came to mind during this exercise: First, I’m long overdue in sharing a bowl of something comforting, warm, and delicious and, two, oh my, how things have changed. If you told me six months ago that the next soup recipe I’d share would originate in a completely different kitchen, in a completely different town, and with a completely different outlook on life I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s what we always think when life throws a curve ball, right? Sometimes we sense the upcoming change, but other times, as was the case with me, it’s like having the rug pulled out from under your feet. Unsettling, to say the least.
So last weekend, with a long stretch of time off, I made soup and when I wrapped my hands around the warm bowl I was reminded why I love to make soup. The whole exercise – prepping the ingredients, stirring the soup as it simmers, and scraping the bowl to get every last drop – is therapeutic.
Soup makes everything better.
Some Ingredients You’ll Need
- Inspired by an albondigas soup I made for eHow early this year, I made a meatball soup reminiscent of chicken noodle soup, except I left out the noodles and instead of just chucking in shredded chicken I made meatballs made with ground chicken. The meatballs serve two purposes: they’re hearty and filling and they add a lot of flavor thanks to the browning step that leaves all kinds of browned bits on the bottom of the pan. All that flavor incorporates in the soup so it’s an important step. Brown the meatballs first, you won’t regret it.
- A generous amount of lemon zest in the meatballs adds a citrus-y brightness that shines through in each bite.
- Long grain white rice takes the place of breadcrumbs in the meatballs and is a nod to the albondigas soup. Add the rice raw to the meatball mixture and it cooks through as the meatballs simmer in the soup. It’s sort of like chicken and rice in meatball form.
- Parsnips are my new go-to veggie for fall. They’re like carrots, but sweeter, and their texture is perfect for soup. Look for them near the root vegetables at the grocery store.
- There’s a small amount of apple cider vinegar in this chicken meatball soup. Parsnips love apples, so deglazing the pan with some apple cider vinegar after cooking the meatballs and vegetables adds a subtle somethin’-somethin’ to the final result.
- Parsnips also love potatoes so I used russet potatoes. Russets are starchy, which helps thicken the broth as it simmers.
- I aspire to be one of those Martha-types that makes chicken broth from scratch, but at this point in my life I’ve accepted I’m not. I use boxed broth (see my brand recommendation in the recipe) and am at peace with that decision. I prefer unsalted chicken broth because I like to season to my taste.
Some for Now, Some for Later
Unless you’re serving four to six people for dinner, it’s likely you’ll want to save the soup leftovers. I enjoyed a big bowl straight from the pot and then ladled individual servings into containers to have on hand through the week. The soup tasted even better the next day after sitting in the fridge overnight and the portions I stuck in the freezer reheated beautifully. This is weekend cooking at it’s best – an hour of time on Sunday means time back during the week. Just reheat and serve.
That’s what I call a good return on investment.
For the Meatballs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 large garlic gloves, minced
- 1/4 of large onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup long grain white rice
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Zest from 1/2 lemon
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound ground chicken
For the Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 of large onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cups diced parsnips (approximately 2 parsnips)
- 2-3 cups diced russet potatoes (approximately 1 medium potato)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 (32 ounce) boxes unsalted chicken broth (see note)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Make the Meatballs: Mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl until well incorporated. Scoop approximately 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture to make each meatball.
- Cook the Meatballs: Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the meatballs and space them a couple inches apart in the bottom of the pot. Depending on the size of your pot, cook the meatballs in batches to ensure they brown properly. Cook the meatballs a few minutes on each side until golden brown. They do not need to be cooked through at this point as they will finish cooking in the soup. Place the browned meatballs on a plate and set aside.
- Make the Soup: Add the onion, parsnips, potatoes, and garlic to the pot. Cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the parsley, salt, and chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and carefully drop the meatballs into the soup. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the lemon juice and serve.
I used Swanson’s unsalted chicken broth for this recipe. Using unsalted broth means you have more control over the seasoning, so if you use a different brand be sure to check the salt content and adjust the recipe as necessary.