Meatball, Kale & Lentil Soup

Just in case soup week last week wasn’t enough, I bring you yet another soup.  This one is incredibly simple, just a handful of ingredients really, but it is UNBELIEVABLE.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this may be the best soup I’ve ever made.  

First off, the meatball.  I’ve clearly never used this combination of ingredients in a meatball before.  I wanted to use all flavorings that actually enhance the flavor of the beef, so I turned to salty soy sauce, hot sriracha, sweet tomato paste, and earthy worcestershire sauce, plus a little smoky cumin.  No onion, no garlic, no bread crumbs, no herbs… just tons of flavor, beef and an egg to bind it all together.  These mini meatballs were so good, Sara and I both had a hard time not eating them all before they even made it into this soup.

And I strayed from my own personal traditions in two other important ways… first, this soup has no starch.  No pasta, potato, or rice.  It does had somewhat starchy lentils, but as a legume, they’re packed with protein.  And I used locinato kale, or Dinosaur kale, rather than green kale, because it tends to hold up better in simmering soup than it’s simple green cousin.  

Simple, vegetable-full soup with incredible meatballs… just the antidote to a -5 degree windchill.

45 min


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp herbes de provence olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • 1 cup baby carrots (or 1 large carrot), thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches locinato (dinosaur) kale, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons (about 6-8 cups)
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the beef, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, sriracha, tomato pasta, cumin, and egg.  With clean hands, mix to combine thoroughly.  Using a melon baller, scoop out small balls of the meat mixture and roll them between your hands. They should be a little less than 1-inch in diameter.  The recipe makes about 25-30 of these meatballs.

In a large saucepan, heat the herbes de provence oil on medium until gently rippling.  Add about half the meatballs, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Brown them on all sides, about 6 minutes altogether.  Remove them to a clean plate, then sear the remaining meatballs in the same pan.  Remove this second batch to the plate and set aside.

Into the rendered beef fat, add the shallots and carrots.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and saute until they just start to color, about 4 minutes.  Add the kale and saute until it just starts to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Add the lentils, seared meatballs, water and bay leaf.  Simmer until kale is tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf just before serving.

It’s every bit as good as it looks.  I’m telling you, the meatballs are the key.  The other ingredients fall nicely into place around the meatballs, but they are the undisputed star of the show.  The kale is nice and toothy, the lentils are just cooked, and the broth is incredibly flavorful for being water-based.

What is this Herbes De Provence olive oil, you might be asking.  Well, it was a gift from my mother-in-law for Christmas, and it’s so so good.  But you could just throw a teaspoon of your favorite dried herbs into a tablespoon of olive oil and call it good.

Stay warm, wherever you are.  Maybe start with a bowl of this soup.

Happy cooking!

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