Oh boy. Did yesterday's post sound like the insane ramblings of a crazy person? WHAT?! I'm reading a book that's bad enough to completely trash via my blog, but somehow not bad enough to just PUT DOWN for more worthy pursuits? Sorry. The kids kindly brought home this dreadful head cold. My sinuses feel like they've been hit by a bus, along with the rest of me. And it's making me a little delirious.
It's like my body knows what's going on outside of itself. For the duration of the Captain's tour, I've been disturbingly, disgustingly healthy. But now that there's a far-off light at the end of the tunnel (and it's still pretty distant), my immune system is all like "Lay down, guys! It's safe to let EVERYTHING in now!"
So, when I get sick and there's no one around to dote on me and listen to me whine and make me chicken soup (which is usually the situation when I'm sick. Awfully convenient for the Captain, no?!), I have to get off my lazy butt and do it myself. But chicken soup isn't my all-time favourite, so that's not usually what I make to chase a cold away. I'm a meatball girl.
There's just something about meatballs. I could eat them every day. Anytime we're having a group of people over for dinner, I pull out the crock pot and make one of my sister's easy meatball recipes. Then the Captain walks in and says "Meatballs AGAIN?! What is this? 1976?!" What can I say? Maybe a meatball saved me from drowing as a child. I don't know. I just love them.
Meatball soup is an easy thing to make, especially if you buy a big bulk pack of ground beef and make and cook your meatballs in advance, then freeze them. You just never know when you're going to get sick, so it pays to be prepared! But if you don't have cooked, frozen meatballs on hand, it's not that big a deal either. Just roll up a few balls of ground beef and fry them until they're good and browned. Then proceed as follows.
12 small cooked meatballs (or 6 big ones cut in half)
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups beef or chicken broth
thyme, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry macaroni or other short pasta (optional)
oil for frying
Fry the onion and carrots in a big soup pot for a couple of minutes, add the garlic and give it literally 20 to 30 seconds, no more. Throw everything else in the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it go until everything is heated through and the carrots are tender. Also, if you don't have those specific vegetables on hand, use whatever else you please. Well, maybe not beets. But most other things work fine. As you can see, I had no carrots, so I used peas instead.
Oh, and if you use the pasta but plan to have leftovers, here's a trick I learned from Rachael Ray: cook them separately and ladle your soup over them in the bowl. That way you don't get overcooked, giant pasta lumps sucking up all your leftover soup.
It's so basic and boring and idiot-proof, I'm not sure why I love this soup so much. I guess that's why they call it "comfort food". It just makes me feel better.