Taken from The Whole Bowl, by Rebecca Wood and Leda Scheintaub
Most traditional meatball recipes contain both wheat, in the form of breadcrumbs, and dairy, often Parmesan cheese. I’m happy to report that neither is essential to a great meatball: They aren’t needed to hold the meatballs together, and without them there are no fillers or binders getting between you and the meat.
This simple meatball, seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices, is simmered in a soup base featuring the Thai trinity of fish sauce, lime juice, and chiles, all of which I recommend keeping on hand at all times. The fish sauce and chile-garlic sauce are available in Asian groceries.
Feel free to double the quantity of the meatballs and freeze them for up to two months. Simply drop them into a pot of simmering stock to cook through as a quick meal solution when you find there’s “nothing in the house.” You can make the meatballs with chicken, beef, or pork in place of the turkey if you like.
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a meal
1 pound ground turkey
¼ medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup minced fresh mint
1 small green chile, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 cups Meaty Restorative Stock
1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce, plus more for serving
¼ cup fish sauce, plus more for serving
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 bundle (about 4 ounces total) bean thread noodles, soaked and cut into pieces
Chopped fresh cilantro and mint
Make the turkey meatballs: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients; wearing disposable gloves or using clean hands, mix very well to incorporate all the ingredients. Form the mixture into about twenty 1 ½-inch balls. Place on a plate and set aside.
Make the soup base: Heat the stock in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the chile-garlic sauce. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add the meatballs to the stock. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for ¬15 minutes.
Add the noodles and cook just for about 30 seconds, until cooked through, then add the fish sauce and lime juice. Spoon into bowls and top each bowl with basil and mint. Pass the fish sauce and lime juice at the table.
Bean Thread Noodles
Also called glass noodles or cellophane noodles, these noodles are made from mung bean starch and are popular in Asian cuisine. You’ll find them in Asian markets and some supermarkets and natural food stores. They are packaged in bundles; to use the bundles, soak them in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain them and cut them into pieces with kitchen scissors and cook briefly until tender. (Uncooked noodles are virtually impossible to break.) For a while I was avoiding not just wheat but all grains—pretty challenging. If you ever go grain-free, be kind to yourself—and stock up on bean thread noodles!
Cooking with the Seasons
We tend to think of noodle soup as cold-weather fare, a go-to food for cold and flu season, but in Asian countries steamy meat-based brothy soups are enjoyed regardless of the temperature outside. To make the soup more summery, try doubling up on the mint or in the winter omitting it. An extra chile or two makes it extra-warming for the winter, as would the addition of hearty winter greens such as kale or collards.