Cold & rainy- the weather has been like this for few days. Although wanting to stay in bed all day with a tea mug on my side, this afternoon, I yearned to take a walk outside. After a week of grey, the warmth of sun rays glistening through the rain drops still clinging on the window were calling me. I put on the boots and walked out, shivering, looking for a cozy corner. It was fiercely windy but sitting on a corner bench as to block the gusts, I soaked up the bright sun. As the rays percolated through thick knits of my gloves, I felt a magical sense of rejuvenation and warmth.The clean feeling after the rains always draws me, the blue skies softly feathered with clouds, the biting humid air,wet cobbled pavements, the vivid green of fauna. ..It feels as if everything had been renewed, repainted on nature's canvas.
I walked back, constantly admiring the crispness around me. Sun was fading behind the cloud cover, the dullness was getting an upper hand again. Stepping inside, I quietly settled myself in the kitchen, soup was the only thing on my mind. Whenever I have a desperate longing to nestle myself in a cozy blanket slurping on a steaming bowl of broth, this meatball soup is what I resort to. Not only is it comforting but intensely flavorful. I have a particular liking for clear & brothy soups and this recipe is just that.
Dad always insists that this soup tastes better the next day. Amid cooking the meals to be eaten within in the next few hours, I saw mom mixing spices with the mince, pinching the meat, squeezing the balls, murmuring all the while about the non ending kitchen chores. Her kitchen was overly busy during winter evenings, soups were prefixed to regular meals, any one coming back from work or school wouldn't settle without a bowl.
The soup preparation takes a little extra work, but since you will be making a pot full, it will last you for at least a day or two and yes dad is right, it tastes much best the next day. If you add a handful of rice, which you totally should, this can even make a super supper!
Mutton Meatball Soup
- Mixing bowl, Dutch Oven
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb (½ kig) minced mutton (You can use minced lamb, chicken, pork or beef)
- 3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 inch fresh ginger shoot,finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 egg
For the Soup
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon corinader seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tejpattaÂ (indian bay leaf)
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes adjust to taste
- ⅓ cup onion paste (I add roughly chopped onions to blender & make a smooth paste adding little or no water)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste I use microplane/hand grater to quickly grate 2-3 cloves of garlic & fresh, peeled shoots of ginger)
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika
- 2 large tomatoes pureed in a blender, yield 1 cup (or use canned tomatoes)
- 3.5-4 cup hot water
- Salt to taste
- Garnish - fresh cilantro leaves, fresh lemon juice (optional), chopped onion, chillies etc
- In a bowl, place all the ingredients Â for the meatballs. Using your fingers, gently combine everything. Dont squeeze the meat, keep it as fluffy as possible. Spread some oil on your palms and pinch lime sized balls of the mixture and line them on a plate. Cover with a cling film and set nearby till ready to use.
- Using a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder, coarsely grind cloves, coriander seeds and cumin seeds.Â Set aside.
- In a wide-mouthed pot (pot should be wide enough so that all the meatballs can be placed without crowding), on medium,heat oil to smoking point. Temper the oil with cinnamon stick &Â tejpatta. Saute for 5-7 seconds
- Add the chilli flakes and immediately odd the onion & garlic-ginger paste next, reduce heat to low,fry till the color is light brown and the raw smell is gone,about 5-7 minutes.
- Continue on the low medium heat and add the ground spices along with red chilli powder, tomato puree,Â sugar and salt. Mix everything and fry for another 7-8 minutes or till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot.
- Add hot water next and on medium heat, check the seasoning, it should be sharp salty and bring the broth to a boil.
- Once the broth is boiling, reduce heat to low and wait for a minute. Carefully, layer the meatballs into the simmering broth one by one. Make sure to have enough water that the meatballs are covered. Dont stir else they will break. Cover the pot and let cook for 10-12 minutes.
- We like the meatballs firm and cooked through and hence the cooking time.You will need to adjust the time depending on the tupe of mince meat used. To check whether the meatballs have cooked to your liking, after 5-7 minutes of simmering in the broth, using a fork take out one ball and cut into half. You will be able to decide on extra cooking time depending on how pink it is on the inside.Â
- Once done switch off the stove and let sit covered for at least 30 minutes, undisturbed. Whenever ready to eat, reheat on low, discard theÂ tejpatta & cinnamon stick, garnish with cilantro, squirt of fresh lemon juice and serve.
- To make this soup more hearty, you can add ⅓-1/2 cup cooked rice to the broth.Â
- If using chicken mince, avoid using ground chicken breast, rather use dark meat.Â
- Avoid using too lean or too fatty mince. I usually for a 85/15 or 90/10 blend.Â