Last night I found myself staring down my dutch oven in what would become an epic soup battle in my kitchen. I knew the recipe was in my head somewhere, that I had something good pictured in my mind. But could I use my ingredients to create my vision? The meat was prepared, vegetables were furiously chopped, cut, diced, sauteed and simmered, and a combination of flavors was used to make the broth (that made me the most nervous, having never done this before).
Then, the taste test. I scooped up the broth, unsure of what to expect, and well... after previous mediocre soup attempts, I wasn't exactly expecting the best. The flavor that met my taste buds surprised me -- and my taste buds. It was good. It was really good. It was a home run, a goal, a touchdown, a 3-point basket. I reveled in my glory all alone (James was working late and the soup was too spicy for the little ones to enjoy, even if they did eat soup). And now, my friends, I share what might be my ultimate soup creation. And just between you and me, I wouldn't expect anything of this magnitude in the soup department to make its way to my page anytime in the near future, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Vegetable Soup with Spicy Meatballs
3 T. oil, divided
1 lb spicy pork sausage
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup almond flour
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups tomato juice
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch collard greens, cut into 1-in pieces
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1. Heat 2 T. oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. In a large bowl, beat together egg and almond flour. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix in pork sausage. Form into meatballs, roughly 2 inches in size and set on a plate.
2. Place half of the meatballs in hot dutch oven, cooking until well-browned, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn over and brown the opposite side. Set aside. Repeat with rest of meatballs.
3. Add remaining oil to dutch oven and turn heat down to medium. Place onion and bell pepper in pot, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring to incorporate and prevent burning. Pour in chicken broth and tomato juice. Bring to a simmer.
4. Carefully add zucchini, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, collard greens, thyme, bay leaves and browned meatballs. Stir to combine, being careful not to break up meatballs. Simmer, cover and cook until meatballs register 170 degrees, about 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.