I have been having a love affair with coconut milk and Thai food recently. It’s something different to make at home and I also love the usual refreshing lime squeezed on for the finishing touch. So this recipe of Thai-inspired Chicken Meatball Soup with Spinach is the perfect comfort food during these cold dark days of winter. I made this recipe last night, loosely based on the New York Times version and ate it in front of a blazing fire to calm my frazzled nerves from all of the Washington DC news of late. It worked and was so super yummy, I wanted to share it with you all right away.
This Thai-inspired Chicken Meatball Soup with Spinach recipe should feed three people with one pound of chicken. I also added a sauteed Portobello mushroom, which I know is not very Thai-like, but this mushroom in my fridge was begging to be used and I thought it was a nice combo with the spinach. Serve this soupy dish with a packed little cup of steamed Jasmine rice and ascend to heaven.
How to stretch meat to feed more people
Another deviation of mine from the New York Times version is the addition of a little Panko to the meatball mixture. It’s a trick from my mom – panko or breadcrumbs – to make them lighter and to stretch the meat a little more in her case. Remember, she was always feeding six kids, along with sometimes some stray neighborhood friends as well. If you are using 2 lbs of chicken, you could also add a raw egg for more stretchability.
On to the recipe, and do not forget to add your LOVE while making. We all especially need a lot more love in this world right now, with Covid, climate change, voting rights (did you know the Republicans enacted all the mail-in ballot voting rules that Trump so objected to? I just found that out tonight.)
I have never talked politics on this blog before, but the insanely false “news” told not by journalists but by the entertainers on Fox and OAN are hitting a crescendo that must be dealt with and needs to be corrected with truth – only truth. And perhaps that can happen over a warm comforting bowl of this Thai-inspired Chicken Meatball Soup with Spinach.
I have always believed that food could bring us together. Conversations over a soothing bowl of soup – who can fight over that warmth?
Let’s make it and pray.
THAI-INSPIRED CHICKEN MEATBALL SOUP with SPINACH – serves 3
1 (4-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1/2 jalapeño, split lengthwise, finely minced with seeds and membrane
1 lb. ground chicken
½ large bunch cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped, plus a few whole leaves reserved for serving
2.5 Tbs. fish sauce, divided
1.5 Tbs. panko
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 – 2 Tbs. canola oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup (8 oz.) full-fat coconut milk
¼ tsp. granulated sugar
1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced and sauteed with 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbs. unsalted butter – Optional
2.5 oz. baby spinach
1 Tbs. lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
Steamed white or brown rice, for serving
Finely mince the ginger, garlic and jalapeno together. Transfer half of this mixture to a large bowl and set the rest aside. To the large bowl, add the chicken, finely chopped cilantro, 1.5 Tbs. fish sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1.5 Tbs. panko. Use your hands or a fork to fully combine but do not overmix.
Use your hands or an ice cream scoop to form 2-inch meatballs. In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat 1 Tbs. Canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning them around every 2 – 3 minutes to brown most sides until golden brown for a total of 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Once all the meatballs are browned and out of the pot, if the oil is burned, wipe it out and add a bit more to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the reserved ginger, garlic jalapeno minced mixture and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, sugar and the remaining 1 Tbs. fish sauce, and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and any juices from the plate, and simmer until the flavors come together and the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, heat the EVOO and butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the butter stops sizzling, add the sliced Portobello mushrooms in a single layer and do not touch them for about 7 minutes. Turn them over for another 4 minutes or so and then add them to the soup.
Remove the soup from the heat, and stir in the spinach and lime juice. Divide rice among bowls, then top with meatballs, broth and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and LOVE.