Mom’s Turkey Meatball Soup

Mom's turkey meatball soup

My mom is great at making soup. I, like many people, will never be able to cook quite like my mother. She came up with this recipe for a quick weeknight meal and it’s been in regular rotation at our house for some time now. I tried making it the other day and let me just say, it wasn’t as good as when mom makes it.

I love the recipe though, because it comes together quickly and uses a hunk of frozen spinach that you don’t even have to thaw ahead of time. I also like that the meatballs get thrown in the soup raw, although if you have the time and don’t mind getting another pan dirty, you can certainly brown them before adding to the stock pot.

Essentially, this is a shortcut recipe — a way to get a homemade soup quickly. Of course, the meatballs would taste better if they had garlic, parsely and parmesan mixed in. Of course, it would be better to brown them rather than to cook them in the soup. And it uses a bare minimum of ingredients, stuff I always have laying around. It doesn’t even call for chicken broth! Because sometimes, you just want a quick dish without all the fuss and this is a great way to do that.

With this recipe, I’m going to include notes from my mom. I’m not going to edit them because I love her Ukrainian take on the English language.

Mom’s Turkey Meatball Soup

serves 8-10

2 medium carrots
1 medium yellow onion
2 celery stalks
1 medium parsnip root
1/4 of a celeriac root
2 medium potatoes
4 quarts of water (Note from mom: I use water because turkey meatblls cooked in water produce a turkey broth.)
1 10-oz. package of frozen greens (Note from mom: You need a pkg of frozen kale or mustard green or spinach or swiss chard. I used kale.)
1 lb. (approximately) ground turkey meat (Note from mom: Lean Ground Turkey – packaged and sealed in a standard size trays. The package on average is 1.3 lb)
1 egg
1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 green onion and/or 1 bunch of parsley, chopped

  1. Dice all the veggies into small cubes. Try to get everything similar in size so it cooks up at the same time. (Note from mom: All this vegetables need to be cubed in a nice aesthetic 🙂 manner to make a pleasant presentation).
  2. Put a 6-quart stock pot filled with 4 quarts of water over high heat. Add the frozen greens and all vegetables, except potatoes, and bring to a boil. (Note from mom: Watch the kale, it may try to jump out of the pot when brought to a boil, so you need to mix a little, until it quiets down.)
  3. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, make the meatballs. Mix turkey with egg and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Mix just until uniform. Take  a teaspoonful of turkey at a time, form a meatball, and set on a tray. (Note from mom: Wet your hands every time meat starts sticking to them, but not much, because it will be difficult to form balls, they will slide in your hands.)
  4. By the time all meatballs are formed, the greens should be completely thawed and the water should be boiling. Add meatballs one by one, then oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, add the potatoes.
  5. The soup is done before the vegetables start falling apart. Remove the bay leaves. Add the fresh herbs, and serve.
  6. This soup keeps about 3-5 days in the fridge.

Chopped vegetables

Try to chop the vegetables into cubes of roughly the same size.

Seasoned turkey meatballs

Mom’s tip for making meatballs: lightly wet your hands before rolling them out. It keeps the meat from sticking to your hands.

Carrot white asparagus spinach potato onion parsnip scallion

You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Root vegetables, like turnip, parsnip, celeriac root, and yams, are all great choices.

Frozen spinach soup

The best thing about this soup is you can just throw a hunk of frozen spinach right in the water. No need to wait for it to thaw!

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