Thirty Minute Thursdays: Zuppa Osso Buco, or well, that's how it started... (Turkey Meatball Soup)

Oh, Rachael Ray and her “stoups.” As much as I sometimes joke at her silly names for food, I made this soup for L when he came to visit me a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I was actually pretty impressed. I got a late start making it but managed to throw it together relatively quickly, and it was the perfect antidote for the cold, rainy, and dreary night. I really appreciate foods that can be filling and satiating while still feeling light, and this soup did exactly that. It was definitely simple – this is no flavor explosion – but still good, and in fact, the nutmeg in the meatballs completely stole the show. From now on I think I’ll be adding nutmeg into other similar dishes, for the extra spice it brings.

Of course, no Floptimism meal would be complete without my changes. I used ground turkey breast instead of the veal, in part because the idea of sad baby cows tied up in confined spaces makes me not too keen on eating meat (my conscience rests slightly more easily with sad turkeys – let’s not get too analytical here, lest my mild hypocrisy officially convinces me to be a veggie-vore), and also in part because I just don’t know where you buy ground veal around here. Then, because turkey breast is sold in 1 1/3 pound containers, I still just used half of the package so it may have been a little meat heavy (and, in the end, I did notice that the meatball:liquid ratio was a little off). I also used quinoa spaghetti instead of egg noodles, and let them boil a little longer because I had a feeling the egg noodles were supposed to be fresh instead of dried, though the recipe didn’t say. I also forgot the beans, and by forgot I mean I ate them as a snack earlier in the day and didn’t realize until the recipe told me to add them in that I had made a mistake. I threw in some diced green peppers as a pseudo replacement, and actually really liked it, so I’d encourage you to put those in even if you don’t munch on your beans before it’s time to cook with them.  The only other change I’d make was to let the carrots cook for a little longer to soften them up.  Oh, and there was an anchovy “gremolata” that was supposed to go on at the end, and I just ignored that part of the recipe because anchovies really aren’t my thing. Or L’s. Or many people’s, really.

As I sit here typing up the ingredients, I suddenly realize my problem with the aforementioned meat:liquid ratio – there was so little liquid because I intended to use all chicken broth instead of a chicken-beef broth combo, but I must have just added in the quantity for the chicken broth. There were 2 cups of broth missing from my soup! You see, this is what happens when you get a late start and just throw things together haphazardly. So apparently I really did a number on this dish – buying the wrong meat, eating the beans as a snack, forgetting about nearly half of the cooking liquid…if it was as good as I claim it was with all of these mistakes, just imagine how fantastic it’ll taste when you make it the right way! Or at least the less horrifically modified way.

I think you could easily omit the meat altogether, or throw in some other veggies here or there that you may like or are in season. It may not be “Zuppa Osso Buco” anymore, but that won’t make it any less popular at the dinner table, now will it?

Zuppa Osso Buco, adapted from Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals
Yield: 4-5 servings

The Ingredients
1 pound lean ground meat of choice (turkey was excellent)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup (homemade whole wheat) bread crumbs
2-4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (use less if it’s the fake Kraft stuff)
¼ - ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
½ cup white wine
14 ounces cannellini beans, drained
15 ounces diced tomatoes
5 cups stock or broth1
4-5 ounces spaghetti, broken in half or thirds

The Method
In a mixing bowl, combine the meat, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, nutmeg, and pepper, then set aside.

Start the soup by heating the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, and adding all of the vegetables. Turn the carrots to coat them fully in the oil and prevent the vegetables from browning. Add in the bay leaf and season with pepper, to taste, continuing to cook until the vegetables soften, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce the heat if it looks like the vegetables are starting to brown. Stir in the wine, beans, tomatoes, and broth/stock. Raise the heat back up to high, add in the pasta if using dried, and cover the pot with a lid.

Return to the meatball mixture, rolling the meat into 1-inch balls. Once the soup begins to boil, add the meatballs into the pot (along with the pasta if fresh), and simmer until both the meatballs and pasta are cooked, approximately 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for several minutes before serving.

1The original calls for a 3:2 chicken to beef ratio, though I’d imagine that any combination – including all vegetable stock – would be fine.

What's that you say? It's getting a little bit late to be posting a Thirty Minute Thursday post? I'm sorry for the borderline neglect I've been putting this blog through. I really have been getting my butt kicked this semester, and appreciate any patience you have. I think it's more my Twitter activity that's suffered, since I can find time here or there to write updates, but still. Thank you for sticking with me, even when life threatens to steal me away to much, much less enjoyable places.


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