Thursday, 21 April 2011

Lamb Meatball Soup with Cabbage & Barley

When I ordered my lamb last year, they asked if I wanted the bones for soup. Of course I did! Still, they were the last things sitting in the freezer when the new lamb arrived. (Yes my "fall lamb" just got here this week. Don't ask.) Anyway, out they came and I made a big pot of stock.

If you don't have bones to make your own stock, use beef stock, either home-made or from a carton. Just be sure to adjust the salt; that is, you may not even want to put in any, depending on how salty it is! You may also want to put in less Worcestershire sauce. I think Worcestershire sauce does great things for lamb stock - the flavours blend perfectly, and it gives the broth a bit more colour. Lamb stock, even if you roast the bones before you make it, tends to look a little dishwatery. But it too adds some salt, so be careful.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour prep time, not including cooking the barley or making the broth

Make the Broth:
3 to 4 pounds lamb bones

Put the lamb bones into a shallow roasting pan, and roast them at 375°C for about an hour, until quite browned.

Turn them into a large stock pot, and add water to cover them generously, and a bay leaf or two. Bring them to a slow simmer and simmer for 5 to 6 hours. Strain out the bones, and let cool. Chill overnight, then remove the hardened fat from the top.

You could instead start with 2 litres of prepared beef stock.

Cook the Barley:
1 1/2 cups barley
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups water

Rinse and clean the barley, and put it with the salt and water into a rice cooker. Turn it on, and let cook until done. Alternately, it can be put in a pot and brought to a simmer, then covered and cooked until tender, but it will have to be watched much more carefully. It should be done in about 45 minutes, but can be done any time in advance up to 24 hours ahead, and the cooked barley stored in the fridge until wanted.

Make the Meatballs:
450 grams (1 pound) ground lamb
1 extra-large egg
1 1/2 cups of the cooked barley
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rubbed dried mint
2 teaspoons rubbed basil
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground

Put all the above ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix well by hand. Form into smallish meatballs, and set them on a plate or tray until they have all been made.

Finish the Soup:
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 large onions
6 cups finely chopped green or Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the meatballs in it until quite brown, turning to brown them evenly. Be gentle with them; the barley makes them a bit fragile. When they are well browned, put them in a large soup pot, along with 2 litres of the lamb stock and any remaining barley. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the onions. Trim and chop the cabbage.

Once the meatballs are out of the pan, add the onions and cook until fairly soft. Add the cabbage, and cook it down for a minute or two. Add a scoop of the lamb broth if it looks like getting brown.

Add the cabbage and onions to the soup. Swish out the pan with another scoop of the lamb broth, scraping up any browned bits to add to the soup.

Add the Worcestershire sauce to the soup, and season with salt. Since the homemade broth has had no salt added until this point you will likely need close to a teaspoon of it - add half that amount and test, then add more as needed. If you start with a prepared broth it will not likely need any additional salt.

Simmer the soup for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the meatballs and cabbage are done.

Last year at this time I made Trout with Ramps & Potatoes and Fruit & Nut Pilaf with Wild Rice. Not a whisker of a ramp to be seen yet this year though.


Jerry said...

Good one, Ferdzy.
Could you sub Maggi for Worcestershire? Maggi is widely used for soups and sauces in Europe and Asia. I might do a taste test when I get my hands on ground lamb.
Also, even though I did make barley risotto quite a few times it never occurred to me to cook barley in a rice cooker! Thanks for the tip. I always pre-soak my rice in rice cooker for about 45 minutes before I turn it on. Would you do the same with barley?
One more: I don’t see any garlic in recipe. Is it omission or is it on purpose? I just can’t imagine lamb without garlic. Knowing myself I would stick a clove into rice cooker, couple into stock and more with meat balls. But, that’s me.
Another great recipe.

Ferdzy said...

Jerry, I'm not familiar with Maggi, so I don't know. I suspect if would be fairly different, but it might be okay. You'd have to decide for yourself.

Yes, I cook a lot of grains besides rice in my rice cooker. It's really very versatile and it means you don't have to watch it as it cooks. I don't soak it, I just dump it all in.

Garlic - yes, it would be good with some. I just didn't put it in. I like garlic, but I don't put it everything. Actually, this would have been good with gremolata (lemon zest, garlic & parsley blend) sprinkled over it - it could have used a little colour.

Jerry said...

Gremolata! Yes, I see Osso Buco on my menu in near future. One problem: nobody around here sells thick veal shank. Oh, well…
Back to Maggi seasoning. Worcestershire sauce is very similar to Maggi in taste but Maggi is more concentrated. It really kicks up the taste of whatever you put it in.
I am adding gremolata to your Lamb Meatball Soup recipe.