Baked lentil meatballs are a hearty addition to this rustic, Italian couscous soup. Serve it with a side of crusty bread for a warming, satiating meal abound with plant-powered nutrients.Can we have a virtual hug for comfort food we can feel good about??
It’s one of my favorite things about the cooler weather. Hearty, comforting soups and casseroles that are seemingly rich, yet loaded with nutrient-rich ingredients. I think I have one or two of those in the archives.
Cooler weather, however, is illusive to me right now because it was a stifling 95 degrees here in Birmingham today. The weather man claims it will cool down this week but i’ll believe it when I see it. PLEASSEEE be true!!Aside from sweating like a pig today, I’m SUPER excited to be sharing these fiberlicious lentil meatballs with you guys because they have rocked my weekend like none other.
Perhaps I should preface this by confessing my undying love for meatballs in general. Meatballs in pasta, yes. Meatballs in a toasty bun smothered with melted mozz, HELL yes. Meatballs actually not made of meat at all, WHY NOT?
It is weird to describe the texture of something as “meaty” when it is, in fact, meatless? It’s truly the only word I can think of when I bite into these little rounds of glory. Lentils add wonderful earthiness which compliments the sharp parmesan cheese and rustic tomatoes like a dream. They acquire a beautiful golden crust on the outside, while staying nice and soft on the inside. Another key note player in these meatballs’ fabulous texture is quinoa. Not only does quinoa amp up the protein, but it also lends its signature fluff-factor to make the ‘balls light and airy, yet delectably moist.
I’m telling ya, even the biggest of carnivores in your life will go nuts over them.Another key note player in these meatballs’ fabulous texture is quinoa. Not only does quinoa amp up the protein, but it also lends a signature fluff-factor to make the ‘balls light and airy, yet delectably moist.
I’m telling ya, even the biggest of carnivores in your life will go nuts over ’em.The meatballs nestle into the most delicious, rustic Italian couscous soup that is guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out. Packed with plenty of aromatics, whole grains and almighty kale, this soup is satisfying, satiating and the ultimate bowl of nutritious comfort food.
It also makes enough to feed a small army, so you can look forward to leftovers the next day (and maybe the day after that) once the flavors really have time to marry. Consider dinner done!
- **Lentil Meatballs**
- 1⅓ cup cooked and cooled green lentils (~1/2 cup dry) -- I cook mine in vegetable broth for more flavor
- ½ cup cooked and cooled quinoa
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs, almond flour or oats
- Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ sweet onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 (14.5) ounce cans unsalted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
- 3 cups kale, stemmed and torn
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Topping: freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- Combine lentils, quinoa, egg, parsley, onion, garlic, ketchup (or tomato paste), breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse, mixing until combined, but not pureed, leaving a little texture. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out rounded (1 tablespoon) amounts of mixture and place on prepared baking sheet. The balls will likely be too wet to actually roll with your hands, but you should be able to gently mold them once on the baking sheet. Scoop out ~18 balls and arrange evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
- In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper; cook 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, cook ~30 seconds, until aromatic. Add broth, diced tomatoes, couscous, kale, italian seasoning and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer for ~20-25 minutes, until couscous is cooked.
- Taste soup and adjust seasoning as needed. Add lentil meatballs. Ladle into bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil (optional).