tomato soup with meatballs & pearl couscous

however not much sense this ‘holiday’ (may 1st) makes, it’s still nice to have a day off, with rather good weather out and some plans. we went to see my brother’s new office and made plans to paint it, drank chai tea and ate the world’s best croissants (all buttery). then, we payed a quick visit to a friend’s shop and on the way home on the countryside drove past an organic produce market and squeezed in a little snack in the sun. now i’m almost off again to a friend’s house, for a greek dinner. there have been some disappointments in the past few days, so it’s good to be so spoilt by friends and showered not only with springtime weather and sun, but with love, too.
tomato soup with meatballs & pearl couscous
serves 4
for the soup:
1 can tomatoes, whole
1 can passata di pomodori
3/4 litres good vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fleur de sel
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 pinch chili flakes
1 lemon, zest & juice
1 cup pearl couscous or barley
1 cup coriander / cilantro, finely chopped
4 tbsp. coconut milk

for the meatballs:
500 g beef, minced
1 egg, beaten
1 small slice of bread, chopped and soaked in a little milk, then drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp. sweet paprika powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. harissa
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil for frying
cook the pearl couscous or barley according to directions in salted water, and put aside. for the soup, sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes. add the tomatoes (whole and passata) and the vegetable broth. season with salt, add curry powder, chili flakes and lemon zest. cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, then quickly puree with a handheld mixer. season with some more salt if necessary and add the lemon juice for a tangy note.
for the meatballs, combine all the ingredients except the ghee or oil and knead a little. shape golfball sized balls in the palms of your hands. heat the ghee in a skillet until very hot. on high heat, fry the meatballs until crisp and brown on all sides. keep warm.
to assemble, ladle the soup into soup bowls, then place a spoonful of the couscous in the middle, so that it peaks out a little. add a dollop of coconut milk and sprinkle with coriander. serve hot and with love.
ps: this is really one of my favorite dishes now… first, it’s summery, surprising thanks to the tangy note and a real, fulfilling meal (which often soup is not, i think). then, it’s also gluten-free (major plus for some guests). and you know, i think children like it, just as much, for the meatballs, of course, but also for the couscous that resembles pasta, really (this started to be my main decision criterion when cooking for my brother’s family: does my nephew like it?). and last but not least, it’s as much male guests suitable as it is for females (i’m not implying there were ever any male guests at this house, ahem… i’m just being all thoughtful, and, you know, foresightful. after all, you never know…).
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