Spring is one of those uncertain times. One day, it can be T-shirt weather and the next you’re pulling out your down jacket–again.
Or you’re looking forward to spring break while nursing a winter cold. Or just wondering when you’ll be able to sit on the deck in the sun for more than five minutes.
All of these situations point to soup. Yes, the days are getting longer but it’s still soup weather all the way!
Plus, is there anything more comforting, satisfying and healthful than soup?
And yet, spring offers the opportunity to lighten it up.
This big bowl of meatball noodle soup is my take on pho–a wonderful Vietnamese dish.
Pho is the ideal spring soup to transition from winter into spring. It’s so adaptable to weather, mood and ingredients.
…and these phenomenal gluten-free/Whole30/keto meatballs. This is a make-ahead meatball that you can batch cook and pull from the freezer as a building block to an easy weeknight dinner.
Then top it with all the fresh spring herbs you can find, including mint, cilantro and Thai basil–I added sprouts to my bowl, too.
A squeeze of lime adds even more freshness to your own bowl of meatball pho.
What are your favorite soups for this transitional time of year? Let me know in the comments below or tag a photo #lynnesforage on Instagram or Facebook.
Meatball Pho with Shiitakes and Bok Choy
This meatball pho features pork meatballs, whole wheat rice noodles, shiitakes and bok choy in a simple broth. Since you make all the components in advance, it’s a great weeknight meal. Feel free to substitute any ground meat, including chicken or turkey for the meatballs. They freeze well, too.
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground pork pastured
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1 egg pastured
- 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped and green parts reserved for the soup
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the pho:
- 7-8 cups chicken broth
- 3 1/4-inch slices unpeeled ginger root
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole star anise
- 10 ounces rice noodles, soaked in hot water regular or whole wheat
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 baby bok choy, quartered
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce or additional to taste
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 lime, quartered for serving
- fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, Thai basil to taste
To make the meatballs, combine the ground pork, almond flour, egg, scallion,, garlic, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and blend well using rubber spatula or your hands.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while you form the meatballs. Use a portion scoop or tablespoon to form the meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Arrange them on 2 rimmed ungreased baking sheets in a single layer about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until cooked through, about 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the broth by bringing the chicken stock to a simmer. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise. Simmer for 15 minutes–or even longer for a more pronounced taste. Reduce the heat to low and add the fish sauce, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning, then discard the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise.
Bring the broth back to a low simmer and use a strainer to dunk the noodles in batches to cook until they are tender to the bite. Distribute them among the bowls. Finally, add the mushrooms and bok choy and simmer until softened, about 10 minutes.
To assemble the bowls, ladle the hot broth with mushrooms and bok choy over the noodles. Top with 3 to 4 meatballs and the reserved green parts of the scallions. Serve with lime slices and fresh herbs to taste.