Good morning from New England, we are officially snowed in. Our Man Cub is still sleeping, as the cleverest of clever teenagers do, and Will Dearest is standing at the window, staring with his mouth hanging open at the mess going on outside. I have plans to turn a biga into bread and some crafty business to work on. Also, I’m thinking about making poached fish and zucchini fritters for dinner*.

If anyone is hungry before that, they can totally break into the leftover soup from the other night.  Yes, soup! Delicious, delicious soup! Let me share it with you.

This soup is the brainchild of leftovers – but not quite enough leftovers to make a meal. And the love affair I’m newly beginning with chard.** It turned out surprisingly great for a pot of soup that had no recipe (It now has a recipe because about five minutes into dinner, Dearest Will implored me to write down what I had done so we can eat this again. And so you, dear reader, benefit – so much win!)

Something Like Italian Wedding Soup, Only Really Notserves 4-6

3 qt chicken stock
2c cooked brown rice
3-4 leaves of fresh basil
1# tiny chicken meatballs (see below)
juice of 2-3 lemons
4 stalks swiss chard, leaves ribboned and stalks diced
~1c leftover cooked chicken (cut small)

Tiny Meatballs
1# ground chicken
1 good handful basil leaves (~1/3c chopped)
sprinkle of kosher salt
pepper to taste

1. Make the tiny meatballs while your stock defrosts over low heat and then is brought to a simmer with the whole basil leaves:***
Put the ground chicken in a bowl, add the chopped basil, salt & pepper, smoosh it up with your hands to make the mixture uniform. Then, with wet hands, form meatballs from about a teaspoon each of the meat mixture. Brown them in a nonstick pan, dry (meaning, without oil). I had to brown them in two batches because my pan wasn’t big enough for them all.

2. Once the meatballs are browned, if your stock is hot enough, you can dump them right into the pot. If the pot is still coming to a simmer (you want to bring it to a simmer), set them aside until it is, and then dump them in.

2. Add to the stock the brown rice and the leftover chicken, as well as salting and peppering to taste. Now it’s time to add the lemon juice. A quick note on lemon juice: there are a variety of things that would make your lemons taste stronger or milder, including your own preference for tart, the season, the kind of lemons you’re using, and how long they’ve been sitting in your refrigerator waiting to be used. I suggest that you juice the lemons one at a time, and add the juice by quarter cup, tasting as you go. We like a more tart soup here at Chez Moskowitz, so I use a lot of lemon juice. My father, were he cooking this, would probably only use half a lemon.

3. Simmer for about fifteen minutes, and then add the chard.  Mix well, and simmer another minute or two, then serve hot. You can put bread on the side if you’d like, but we didn’t really find that we wanted it, as the soup was pretty hearty (because zomg, meatballs). Delicious – we have roughly two servings left to fight over.
This is a filling soup with both bright and earthy flavors. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!


*Because this is the stuff we have on hand. Not to say that I failed pre-storm shopping, but rather that I figured we already have a bunch of stuff in the freezer and didn’t want to go stand in those lines full of panicky people who need some milk. \o/
**The smallest cat insists, “I’m Dutch!” The chard squeaks, “I’m Swiss!” Everyone’s so concerned right now about their origins being honored. As if this is a household that doesn’t like diversity. As if!
***I make stock from pretty much every roast chicken we eat, and then freeze it. The best way to defrost it, I find, is to set it on a very low burner, covered, making sure to stir it frequently. If you do not make your own stock, the boxed stuff is just fine. Personally, I really like the Progresso chicken broth (no worries, broth is just stock with seasoning) in the blue box – it’s seasoned only lightly, and isn’t over-salted, as many stocks and broths can be.