Thai Chicken Meatball Soup

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This is a wonderful NYT recipe that somehow achieves really rich and complex flavors without too much work and zero complicated ingredients. The recipe list calls for spinach but I think swiss chard or kale would work wonderfully and hold up better for leftovers should you be so inspired. The original recipe calls for this soup to be served over rice, which I don’t prefer but choose your own adventure!

Ingredients: (serves 5-6)

  • 1 ~4″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 green jalapeno
  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (reserve a few springs for serving)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more as needed (a higher heat oil like sunflower, vegetable or canola could work in a pinch)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 14-oz can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Many handfuls of spinach, kale or swiss chard (as much as you want, eyeball it)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus some lime wedges for serving

Preparation:

Peel and grate the ginger and garlic (or finely chop by hand), and finely chop the jalapeno. Take half the ginger, garlic and jalapeno and transfer to a large mixing bowl, and reserve the other half for later. Add the ground chicken, finely chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix all together with your hands.

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Form the meatballs with your hands or two spoons (or an icecream scoop), forming 2″ balls. Heat a large dutch oven/soup pot and add the coconut oil. Work in batches and add the meatballs to the pot, searing on all sides (about 5 minutes per batch). Don’t worry about cooking them all the way through, but make sure you can’t see any raw chicken and you’ve got some nice color on most of the meatball sides. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and continue working through in batches, adding more coconut oil as needed.

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When all your meatballs are seared on all sides and removed from the pot, add just a bit more coconut oil and add the ginger/garlic/jalapeno mix that you saved at the beginning of this adventure. Saute on medium heat until it smells divine (about 1 minute).

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Then add the chicken broth, coconut milk, sugar and 1 tablespoon fish sauce and scrape up any of the browned bits that have adhered to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, and add those meatballs back in (plus any of those amazing juices from the plate that dripped off of them while they sat). Simmer until the flavors come together and the meatballs are fully cooked (8-10 minutes). I recommend removing your most oddly shaped meatball and cutting it open to make sure it’s fully cooked (any pink and it’s not cooked enough).

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Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach and add the lime juice. If you’re using kale or chard, you might add that in a minute or two before you remove from the heat. Spinach will wilt much quicker than heartier greens.

Divide meatballs and broth among bowls and top with cilantro and an additional squeeze or two of lime juice. Enjoy….and add a rice or noodle grain if you need it, you do you.

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