Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not Quite Frozen Dinner

If there’s one thing I never eat, it’s frozen dinners. Neither Lean Cuisine nor Amy’s Kitchen grace my table. It’s not that I’m a fresh food snob. Some of my best friends eat frozen dinners. It’s just that I like to cook even when faced with an empty fridge. Sometimes I roast whatever vegetables I have on hand and eat them with cheese and crackers. Other times I cut up some carrots and make a yogurt dip. It's nearly as easy as nuking a plastic tray.

I do, however, keep a freezer well-stocked with odds and ends that might make a good meal. Throughout the winter, I had chicken stock, leftover pasta dough and boneless chicken breasts in the deep freeze. Are you thinking soup? I thought chicken meatball and noodle soup. This isn't exactly fast food, but the soup comes together pretty quickly if you remember to defrost everything four to six hours in advance.

I work with different ingredient amounts each time I make this, so I can't share exact proportions. Eye it. Bring the stock to a simmer in a big soup pot. In the meantime, make the chicken meatballs. (You could, of course, use pre-ground chicken, turkey, veal, pork or beef if you like. I've got an overstock of chicken breasts.)

Run the chicken breasts through a food processor until ground but not pureed; mix with some bread crumbs, an egg, a few tablespoons of chopped parsley; add a good shake of salt and black groundpepper. I also like to add crumpled feta cheese.

Shape the meat mixture into meatballs that are about 1 inch in diameter, place them on a foil-lined tray and refrigerate. Roll out the pasta dough as described here. Finely chop and then sauté a carrot and a small onion in olive oil in a skillet for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the carrots and onions to the simmering stock.

Add the noodles to the stock and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Carefully add the meatballs and simmer until the chicken is just cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Serve the soup in big bowls. I like it topped with chopped parsley, dill or scallions, and sour cream.


Rozmin said...

That looks and sounds really good. I love meatballs (any kind) in soup. Actually, meatballs are just good any way you have them. Pasta, soups, sandwiches. I love those Japanese yakitori meatballs on skewers, too.

Lo said...

That looks absolutely scrumptious. I love the idea of keeping odds and ends in the freezer to compose "home cooked" mesls at a later date. We do it too -- and it saves us from take-out on more occasions than I can count!

Yulinka said...

Rozmin--I haven't made "real" meatballs (sauteed, with sauce), in a while. It's easier to poach meatballs in soup!

Lo--The only downside is having a horribly messy freezer chock full of unlabeled containers. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm the same way about frozen food... we just don't eat it in my house. I keep frozen chicken breast, fish, or pork chops in there... and always some cans of tuna in the cabinet.
This soup looks great. I've never thought to add feta to meatballs - what an awesome idea!! (i love cheese:) )

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