Monday, March 8, 2010

Turkey Meatball Florentine Soup

Normally, I eat a lot of vegetables, but sometimes getting enough of the dark, leafy greens is a bit more challenging. This soup fulfills my requirement in a delicious way and the little meatballs make it fun to eat! Spinach and kale are excellent sources of iron, beta carotene, folate and vitamins A, C and K. Of course, I would have to include my favorite super food (beans) which are loaded with protein and fiber. I used heirloom Cannellini Runner Beans because that's what I had in the pantry, but feel free to substitute your favorite white bean, such as Great Northern, or limas.

Turkey Meatball Florentine Soup
(Makes eight 1½ cup servings)

12 oz. dried white beans
2 teaspoons baking soda
8 cups chicken stock
½ pound 99% extra lean ground breast of turkey
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed (½ package)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
One 14.5 ounce canned petite diced tomatoes with liquid
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
6 cups kale, torn or rough chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Pick through beans for small stones. Rinse and cover with cold water and soak overnight or for 4-5 hours. Drain and place beans in a large pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 20-25 minutes or until skins split when you blow on them. Add baking soda to pot and stir to release gas in beans. (Note: The mixture will foam and bubble so, if necessary, do this in sink in case hot liquid overflows the pot.) After foaming has ceased, drain and rinse beans and return them to pot.

2. Add chicken stock to pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1½ hours.

3. Take the thawed spinach and squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach. Place it in a medium mixing bowl and add the ground turkey, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, pepper, oregano, garlic powder and egg. Mix together with a fork until well combined. Turn up the heat to medium high and, as soon as the beans are boiling, form small meatballs (about 1-inch in diameter) and drop into the boiling liquid. Do not stir. Cover pot and boil for 5 minutes, and then reduce the heat to a simmer once again. Stir meatballs into the soup and cover. Continue simmering while you prepare the kale.

4. Wash the kale and remove the thick stems. Tear or chop leaves into bite size pieces. Place in pot and cover. As soon as the leaves have wilted, add tomatoes and Italian seasoning and stir soup to combine ingredients. Cover pot and continue simmering until beans are soft and mealy. The amount of time will depend on the type of bean used; check every 15-30 minutes until done. Taste soup and, if necessary, add salt and pepper to your liking.

Nutritional Information per serving: 246.8 calories, 36.4 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 9.1 g fiber, 23.5 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

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