Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Turkish Minty Lamb Meatball Soup

Ever since our trip to Turkey I have been cooking Turkish food regularly. There are a lot of foods from around the Mediterranean area which are exotic to us, but the climate and therefore the food materials from the north and central plains and mountains overlap quite a bit with southern Ontario, making them very adaptable to be made here. This lovely little soup is a good example.

I have broken  it down into a lot of steps and it looks like a lot of ingredients, but it really isn't at all difficult or particularly time consuming, although making all those tiny meatballs got a little tedious. Most of the ingredients listed are just seasonings that get repeated in different components of the soup, and watch that barley flour - I call for it in several different places. The source recipes I looked at for this didn't use barley flour, but as you should know by now I really like it in soup. Most of the recipes I looked at called for chick peas, but some of them called for noodles instead, so you could make that substitution if you like. I'd cook them most of the way separately before adding them if I did that.

I used our own home-canned tomato sauce, which is on the thin side. Most recipes called for tomato paste, and much less of it. You should use whatever tomato product seems best (i.e. you have it) to you, and use your judgement to adjust the quantity. 

If you serve nothing else this will certainly be plenty for 4 people, and with some bread and maybe some Carrots with Yogurt & Garlic it should stretch to 6 without difficulty.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour prep time

Turkish Minty Lamb Meatball Soup

Make the Meatballs:
2 medium onions, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon rubbed dried mint
1 tablespoon barley flour
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground lamb
2 to 3 tablespoons barley flour

Trim the stem end of the onions, and peel back the skin to have the onions with an onion skin "handle" at the root ends. Grate the onions, discarding the root end. Put about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of the grated onion in a small mixing bowl, and set aside the rest to go into the soup. Measure and add all the spices, up to and including the first tablespoon of barley flour to the mixing bowl.

Add the lamb to the bowl and mix it all well with your hands. The mixture should be quite smooth; most recipes I read used the word "knead" or "beat".

Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of barley flour over a large flat plate. Use a level teaspoon to measure out the meat and form small - small! - meatballs. Drop them on the plate, and give the plate a little shake every dozen meatballs or so to coat them in the barley flour. Sprinkle on another spoonful of barley flour if it looks like it is running low.

Mix the Spices:
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed dry mint
1 tablespoon barley flour
1 clove of garlic

Mix the spices and barley flour in a small bowl. Peel and grate the garlic very finely, and add it to the spices. Have them standing by.

Make the Soup:
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 cup tomato sauce (see notes above)
4 cups water
1 540-ml (19 ounce) tin of chickpeas, drained

Put the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the reserved grated onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Don't let it brown, it should just sizzle gently. Once it is cooked down and translucent, mix in the bowl of spices and garlic. Mix well until there is no dry material left.

Add the tomato sauce, stirring relentlessly until the mixture is fairly smooth. That is, the onion bits will be obvious, but you want the barley flour and spices to have dissolved evenly and without lumps. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the water, a little at a time, to maintain a smooth lump-free soup. Meanwhile, open and drain the chick peas. (You could, if you like, use their liquid as part of the water to make the soup.)  Add them to the soup. Once it is all in, turn up the heat and bring the soup to a boil.

When the soup boils add the meatballs. Give them a gentle stir to make sure they are not sticking together. When the soup begins to boil again, reduce the heat to keep it at a steady simmer. Simmer the meatballs for 15 minutes.

This can be done up to a day in advance and the soup re-heated to serve, or you can continue from here.

To Finish & Serve the Soup:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon barley flour
2/3 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon rubbed dry mint
2 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk the egg and barley flour together until smooth in a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the yogurt.

Measure the mint and olive oil into another small bowl, and mix well. Set aside to infuse while you finish the soup.

When the soup is just gently simmering, carefully stir in the egg and yogurt mixture. Let it heat gently and uncovered until the soup thickens, but do not let it boil again or it may curdle. It's a good idea to stand over it and stir it gently. Serve at once, with the mint oil drizzled over the top of the soup.

Last year at this time I made Aloo Mattar Chowder - yes, it is still very much soup weather however much I would like it not to be.

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