Well, with the Polar Vortex descending on the Midwest this week and causing record high temps, I thought it fitting to make a recipe that will help fight the arctic cold and keep all of us warm. While the weather may get warmer in the next few days, sadly, we are still very much in the midst of winter and truly need something deliciously comforting to help us fight the winter blues! This soup did it for us.
The mushrooms add in a lot of flavor to this tasty soup with the meatballs providing that meaty bite that adds heartiness to this delicious dish. The bonus is it’s simplicity, it’s not a complicated dish and tastes even better the next day. Well, we only had some left-overs because I needed one bowlful to take photo of for this post, otherwise if would have been gone in one-sitting. Hope you enjoy this flavorful soup and hope it helps you somehow conquer some of the chills of the winter season.
1-2 oz dried Shiitake (or your choice of) Mushrooms or 4 oz fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
1 lb ground Beef
1 small Onion, finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Salt
Freshly ground black Pepper, to taste
A little Olive Oil for frying
4 cups Beef stock or broth
A bunch (1/2-3/4 cup) Watercress or Spinach leaves
4 Green Onions (Scallions), finely chopped
1-2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, or to taste (use gluten-free version for a wheat-free diet)
2-3 teaspoons Brown Sugar, or to taste
A few drops of Fish Sauce (for extra seasoning, optional)
If using dried mushrooms, you need to re-hydrate them first. Place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and pour enough warm water to cover. Let soak for about 20 minutes and then drain. The liquid would be quite flavorful so you can use this for the soup if you wish to. Just strain it well first before using. Slice the mushrooms.
If using the fresh mushrooms, just clean them and then slice as usual. You can leave out the stalks if you like. The dried mushrooms are more flavorful than the fresh ones hence you need more of the fresh ones to impart more flavor to the soup. If Shiitake mushrooms are a little too expensive, you can use other mushrooms, too.
Make the meatballs by combining the ground beef, onion, garlic, cornstarch, salt, pepper and the lightly beaten egg. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls.
Heat a frying pan to medium and then add the oil. Quickly fry the meatballs just until they are quite brownish all over. They don’t have to be fully cooked as they will be simmered later.
Bring the beef broth or stock to boil in a large pan (you can add the liquid from the mushrooms to make it up to 4 cups). Add the meatballs and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms – if using fresh, simmer for another 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender; if using the dried ones, you only need to simmer it for about 2-3 minutes. Season with a little soy sauce, brown sugar and fish sauce (if using), to taste. Add the watercress (or spinach) and green onions and cook for another minute.
Ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Enjoy this flavorful soup this winter!
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