Time: About 1 3/4 hours. This soup is built on root vegetables roasted until sweet, dense, and crisply browned. Roast meatballs at the same time, pour in broth, and you have soup straight from the oven. Warm some bread alongside the soup while you're at it.
1 small peeled, seeded butternut squash
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large parsnips, peeled
15 to 20 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound ground turkey (not breast only)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 large leeks, cut into 1/4-in. slices and rinsed
1 large head fennel, cut into 1/4-in. slices (reserve feathery fronds for garnish)
8 cups reduced-sodium or homemade chicken broth*
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 425° and arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Cut squash, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips into 1-in. pieces and put in a large oiled roasting pan; add garlic. Toss with 2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper and spread out in a single layer, leaving as much room as possible around the pieces. Roast vegetables on lower rack about 40 minutes, or until browned and tender (stir after they've browned underneath, about 25 minutes).
Meanwhile, make meatballs: With wet hands, mix turkey, fennel seeds, egg, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper together in a small bowl. Oil your hands with some of remaining oil. Shape turkey mixture into 1-in. meatballs and set them on an oiled rimmed baking sheet as you go, using more oil as needed to coat them well. Roast meatballs on upper rack 15 to 20 minutes, turning a couple of times to brown well on all sides.
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and fennel, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in broth and bring to a boil over high heat, covered. Lower heat and simmer vegetables until meltingly soft, about 25 minutes.
When vegetables in oven have caramelized and meatballs are browned, remove both from oven. Transfer meatballs to roasting pan. Pour a ladleful of hot broth into baking sheet and scrape up browned bits; pour into roasting pan along with all contents of pot and gently scrape up vegetables' browned bits. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes to let flavors mingle. Serve with hunks of warm bread.
*For a recipe, go to sunset.com/chickenbroth.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per 1 1/2-cup serving.
This was a really delicious and filling meal. The depth of flavor the roasted vegetables imparted was impressive. I misread the recipe and put all of the vegetables including the leeks and fennel in the roasting pan but i think it only improved the flavor . I used 15 smaller cloves of garlic but everyone agreed more would have been better. I transferred everything into a soup pot and let it simmer a little bit before serving. I also added some extra spices (oregano, thyme and a little sage)to the meatballs but they would have been fine even plain. I had no problems with them cooking in the oven with the vegetables. They cooked up quickly and browned nicely. I will defiantly be making this again.
This was fantastic!! Instead of putting the veg in the oven I put them all in the soup pot and cooked them with a little bit of olive oil. Then added the broth. I also did not use fennel. Def a keeper!
I followed the recipe exactly, and whereas the vegetables were wonderful (and I did use the full 20 cloves of garlic) the meatballs just didn't cook (on a 5 year old GE Profile Dual Fuel Range). They didn't brown at all much less caramelize and there was a lot of ooze from the meatballs (I used Jennie O lean, not all breast). Since the ooze didn't seem to add any flavor, I got rid of it and cranked up the oven to broil after removing the vegetables. Everything deglazed just fine, the meatballs tasted pleasantly of fennel, but considering the effort and result, I think that I'll just cook up a pound of turkey sausage as another reader has suggested. Very delicious and satisfying, though.
My husband and kids loved this soup. I used frozen meatballs from Costco because the kids like them and it simplified the recipe a little. Omitted the fennel seeds (didn't have any) This was the first time I cooked with leeks and was a little nervous but we all loved them. Will be making this soup again!!
This soup/stew is outstanding! My wife made this yesterday and is gone today. Perfect for a cold weather day. The only altered part of the recipe is she used turkey Italian sausage for the meatballs and kicked it up with a couple shakes of crushed red pepper and served it with hot Tuscan Roasted Garlic Loaf and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Yummmmy!
Excellent recipe. Packed full of flavor and healthy too; what more could you ask for at the start of 2009. The 4th step as a bit confusing. Instead, I did pour hot broth into both baking sheets (for meatballs and for vegetables) and then poured everything into the soup pot for a few minutes to get warm and to mingle. Excellent!
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