Hearty Meatball Soup for Sukkot
Turkey Meatball Soup with Egg and Spinach (Ronnie Fein)
When I was a little girl, we celebrated the Jewish holidays at my grandma’s house. She lived in an apartment; so, come Sukkot, there was no backyard where we could build a sukkah. She opened up a bridge table in the far end of her living room, placed a sheet or bedspread on top and that was that for my cousin Leslie and me. Our grandma let us eat in there, a small, cramped, dark space with barely enough room to move around, let alone eat a meal. But we loved that place, our personal sukkah, and still remember those days fondly, including the mac-and-cheese from a box that we had for lunch.
Later on, when I lived with my husband and daughters in the suburbs, we had a proper sukkah in our front yard: a cozy pre-fab log cabin with benches around the sides that the girls used as a clubhouse during the rest of the year. On Sukkot we had lunch in there. It was as small and cramped as the bridge table had been for my cousin and me, but we didn’t care! We loved it and remember those days fondly. I brought sandwiches because they were easy to eat outside on paper plates on our laps while surrounded by dead leaves and cobwebs.
The important point of all those special feasts is the tradition, of course. On Sukkot we eat, as commanded to do, in a sukkah. It doesn’t matter whether yours is a bridge table, a pre-fab log cabin, a sturdy structure made with tree limbs, or even just your kitchen table, decorated with a paper tree, a fresh pumpkin, and a cardboard cornucopia. It can be on your terrace, in a friend’s backyard patio, or outside your synagogue. A sukkah of any kind is an icon of bounty and thankfulness; the stuff of memories.
Except, of course, if your sukkah is not in your kitchen or you are bringing food to someone else’s sukkah, you need food that travels well, so it still tastes fresh and is in good condition when it’s time to eat.
Sandwiches for sure. Mac-and-cheese? Fine – kept warm in a large thermos pot.
But this year, may I suggest soup? Most soups are easy to transport to the table in a covered pot or ceramic bowl. This year, why not try Turkey Meatball Soup with Egg and Vegetables. It’s a kosher riff on Italian Wedding soup – meat and greens in broth – but without the usual sprinkling of cheese. The classic version is called “wedding soup” because of the “marriage of flavors” produced by combining meat with greens in one dish. My recipe adds even more flavor with a bit of tang from lemon juice and a few additional carrots, which also give the dish a brighter color and make it a more substantial one-pot meal.
I use turkey for the meatballs but you could substitute veal or beef. Carrots are not the only additional option – include more vegetables (such as peas, corn, string beans, cauliflower) of your choice. You can make the soup with rice, as I do, or substitute egg noodles or pasta. By the way, you can skip the meat, even though it is meatball soup. Make it with vegetable stock and add chunks of firm tofu when you add the rice.
Turkey Meatball Soup with Egg and Vegetables is filling and festive, making it perfectly appropriate for the harvest holiday. Because it is a one-pot meal you don’t need lots of pots and pans to prepare the soup and serving is easy too: just bowls, spoons, and a ladle will do.
Also, you can tote it anywhere. There are any number of vacuum-type insulated jars available. Both Zojirushi and Thermos make high-quality insulated vacuum jars in several sizes. The best ones for soup have wide mouths for ladling.
No matter which version of the soup you prefer, enjoy the bounty in whatever kind of sukkah you’re dining in.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.