Sunny and cold with a chance of meatballs

You can adjust the heat on Nancie McDermott's Vietnamese meatball soup by adding more chili-garlic sauce. We also added asparagus on the side.

You can adjust the heat on Nancie McDermott’s Vietnamese meatball soup by adding a good portion chili-garlic sauce. You can also add rice or noodles. We liked dipping steamed asparagus into the broth as well.

Think meatballs and I used to think spaghetti. But Nancie McDermott’s Vietnamese meatball soup has changed that. At least now, I recognize broader possibilities.

Move over, pasta; you have a competitor.

cropped-small-plates-blog.pngI first tried Nancie’s recipe in “Quick & Easy Vietnamese” last fall. It was so good that I posted a picture on her Facebook page, thanking her for the recipe. She commented: My daughter home from college looked at your post and photo about the meatball soup and said, “HEY!!!! You never made that for ME!!!” Have to fix that !

I’m sure her daughter was as pleased as we were with this one-dish supper.

Here’s the recipe. You can adjust the heat with chili-garlic sauce on top. Be sure to buy the 5 percent fat ground beef.

Meatball soup (bo vien)

For the meatballs

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian  sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch (Note from Janet: I use organic. It is aluminum-free.)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the soup

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

To make the meatballs, combine the ground beef with all its seasonings in a medium pan and mix to blend well. Shape into meatballs, using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each one. You should have 25 to 30 meatballs.

To make the soup, bring the broth to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Drop in half the meatballs, and cook, stirring now and then, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, cook the remaining meatballs in the broth and transfer them to the bowl as well.

Season the broth in the saucepan by stirring in the fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper. Return the meatballs to the broth and heat through. Sprinkle with the green onion and cilantro. Serve hot.

— from Nancie McDermott’s “Quick & Easy Vietnamese”

P.S.: I just bought Nancie’s “Quick & Easy Thai.” Can’t wait to get started on some of her Thai dishes.

Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 52 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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