Spanish-Style Meatball Soup with Saffron and Kale #soupswappers

Today is Saturday Soup Swappers and today's challenge was to make a soup with meatballs!  This was a super fun challenge.  Why?  Because I love meatballs!!  Since childhood I have leaned toward a dish that features meatballs...I have even been known to eat lamb meatballs and if you know me well, you know that lamb rates at the bottom of my list of favorites.  Bring on the Spaghetti and Meatballs, bring on the Italian Wedding Soup.  I will always have a fork and spoon ready!

Today's soup features turkey meatballs and kale with a lovely picada mixed in just before serving.  Picada originated in the Catalan region of Spain around the thirteenth or fourteenth century as a way of thickening a soup or stew.  It is a combination of ground nuts, bread crumbs, aromatics and olive oil that when mixed together thickens a dish and provides a "tah dah" to the dish!

Saffron is the star of this soup.  It has a lovely subtle flavor that you know when you taste it.  Paella isn't paella without saffron!  Bouillabaisse isn't bouillabaisse without saffron!  And, this Spanish-style soup wouldn't be nearly as tasty without it! There really isn't a substitute for saffron.  It is expensive and if you are lucky enough to be traveling in Spain you can easily find it in the market.  Saffron is the dried orange-red stigma of a crocus sativas a sterile crocus used specifically for the purpose of its three stigmas!  Yes, three.  Three per flower.  And, they are hand-harvested!  You can see why the expense.  There are 70,000 flowers harvested for one pound of saffron!

The soup starts with a sofrito which is a base for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese cooking.  This sofrito consists of onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.  The recipe says the rest....

Spanish-Style Meatball Soup 
with Saffron and Kale
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Soup Serves:  6-8

Yields:  1 cup
Preheat oven:  375° (Place oven rack in the middle.)

1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 slices white bread, quartered
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Three twists fresh ground pepper

Pulse the nuts in a food processor to fine crumbs.  Add the bread, olive oil, salt and pepper and continue to pulse the bread to coarse crumbs.  Spread the mixture over a baking sheet.  Toast, stir frequently, until golden brown.  (Ten minutes)  Let cool.

The picada may be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for two days.

Yields: 30-35 meatballs

2 slices white bread, torn into quarters
1/3 cup milk
1 pound ground turkey (93 % lean)
1/2 cup Manchego cheese
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
3 Tbsp minced shallot (1 medium)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

In a large bowl, mash the bread and milk together into a paste.  Add the ground turkey, Manchego cheese, parsley, shallot, oil, salt and pepper.  Mix the combination thoroughly.  When combined, roll the meatballs by pulling off about 2 teaspoons of meat mixture.  Roll into firm balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until firm, about 45 minutes.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 recipe of picada
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the onion and bell pepper.  Cook until softened and lightly browned. (10-12 minutes) Stir in the garlic, paprika, saffron, and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits.  Cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the broth and bring the soup to a simmer.  Gently add the meatballs and kale.  Continue to simmer until the meatballs are cooked through 12-15 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in the picada, parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.



The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Meatball and Noodle Soup (Sopa Albondigas con Fideo)  by Palatable Pastime 
Zucchetti and Meatball Soup  by  Home Sweet Homestead
Green Gram & Chicken Meatball Clear Soup  by  Sneha's Recipe 
Albondigas Soup by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Shrimp and Pork Meatball Wonton Noodle Soup  by  Karen's Kitchen Stories 
One-Pot Fennel & Stout Beef Meatball Stew  by  Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice http://faithhopeloveandlucksurvivedespiteawhiskeredaccomp


  1. Your meatballs sound delicious with that manchego, and I love anything saffron!

    1. Thank you, Karen! The cheese really have the meatballs a great touch of flavor.

  2. I can just about smell that soup. It looks so amazingly delicious.

    1. Thank you, Wendy, I was really excited about this recipe. Super tasty.

  3. We both made turkey meatballs this month. :) Your soup sounds like something you'd order in a fancy restaurant, and looks delicious.

    1. Thank you, April. Yes, turkey seemed to be perfect, especially with the white wine!

  4. This looks divine. I've passed it along to my girls and sister. The four of us are about to put together a Soup Blog.

  5. Love the addition of saffron in the soup, gives the soup a warm color, look delicious.


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