Lentil Soup with Meatballs

An unusual cold-front hit much of the Mid-to-Eastern part of
the US over the past few days, sending shivers down our spines.

What better way to warm ourselves than with a pot of hot, hearty
soup! I scrolled through The Armenian Kitchen’s recipe column and resurrected
the heart-warming, tummy-filling recipe for Lentil Soup with Meatballs.

It will definitely satisfy on a bitter cold night!

Lentil Soup with Meatballs
Lentil Soup with Meatballs
Yield: 8 servings

Soup Ingredients:

1 large onion, sliced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large clove minced garlic

1/2 tsp. dried Italian herb blend, or to taste

Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Aleppo red pepper, to

1 cup fresh mushroom, wiped clean and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch circles

1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over

1- 14.5 oz. can (no-salt-added) crushed or diced tomatoes,
with their juice

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

6 cups chicken broth or stock, commercially prepared or

1/2 cup packed chopped fresh parsley

Meatball Ingredients:

1-lb. ground turkey, lamb, or beef

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp. dried Italian herb blend

1 large egg, beaten

½ crumbled feta cheese, optional

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Salt, freshly ground black pepper and Aleppo red pepper, to

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnish options:

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Crumbled feta cheese

How to make the Soup:

Gently heat the olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Add
the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes; add the dried herb blend,
season lightly with salt and both peppers, and cook for 1 minute. Add the
mushrooms and carrots; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the lentils, tomatoes with their juices, and tomato
paste, stirring until all the ingredients in the pot are coated. Increase the
heat to high, add the chicken stock or broth and bring to a boil; reduce the
heat to low and add the parsley. Partially cover; cook for 45 minutes, stirring

How to make the Meatballs:

Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
Combine the ground meat (I used ground turkey), garlic,
dried herb blend, egg, feta cheese (if using), bread crumbs and a sprinkling of
salt, black pepper, and Aleppo red pepper in a medium bowl. With clean hands,
gently mix the ingredients until well-combined. Form 3/4-inch to 1-inch sized
meatballs until meat mixture is used up. Mine yielded 35 meatballs.

Browning the meatballs before adding to soup

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over
medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the meatballs making sure not
to crowd them. If necessary, cook in small batches. Cook meatballs on all sides
for about 5 minutes until evenly browned.

(Please note: The meatballs will not be thoroughly cooked at
this point.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the paper towel-lined
plate to drain.

Finishing the Soup:

After the soup has cooked for 45 minutes, add the browned meatballs.
Meatballs and soup simmering harmoniously!

Partially cover and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes or until the
lentils and carrots are tender and the meatballs are cooked through. Stir now
and then.

Taste; adjust seasonings if needed. If the soup thickens too
much, add a bit more liquid and heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Serving the Soup:

Ladle the soup into individual bowls; garnish with parsley
and/or the feta cheese, if desired. Serve with crusty bread on the side!

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