Gruenkern Soup with Mini Turkey Meatballs


by June Hersh, Reprinted from Recipes Remembered, a Celebration of Survival

When working on Recipes Remembered "my" survivors talked about a very popular German ingredient called gruenkern.  It was a staple in their cooking and I wanted to incorporate it into a dish. Gruenkern has an interesting nutty flavor and is a nutritious substitute for rice, pasta or noodles in a soup. It has similar properties to farro, spelt or wheat berries. While this forgotten grain is not easy to find, most German specialty stores, or kosher suppliers can usually order it for you. The addition of turkey meatballs came from my love of Italian wedding soup. How fun it is to scoop up little bites of flavorful meatball with every spoonful of delicious broth.


For the soup:
1 cup gruenkern, soaked*
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 celery ribs, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 quarts water or chicken broth (if using water, you will need to add a bouillon cube or chicken flavor seasoning packet)
Soup bones, optional
Kosher salt and pepper

For the meatballs (makes about 30):
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
Kosher salt and pepper
1- pound ground turkey
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional


Step One: Soak the gruenkern for 6 to 8 hours or overnight, in cold water, enough to completely cover the kernels.

Step Two: Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, cook and stir the onion, carrots and celery, over medium heat, until they have softened a bit, you'll begin to smell their sweet aroma, about 15 minutes.  Pour the broth (or water) into the pot, add the drained gruenkern. Season with salt and pepper. If you have any soup bones, feel free to add them to the pot for extra flavor. Cover and cook over low heat for 1½ hours.

While the soup cooks, prepare the turkey meatballs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients, adding the turkey meat last.  Form mini meatballs, about the size of a marble.  Place them on the baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Turn them over and continue baking until they are lightly browned and cooked through, 10 - 15 minutes longer.

Remove them from the oven and gently drop them into the soup. Add the bouillon cube or flavoring packet (if you used water).  After 1 1/2 hours, check to see that the gruenkern is done, it will retain a soft, slightly grainy bite.  Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.


Yield: 6 servings

*If your local market does not have gruenkern, you can, of course, substitute par boiled rice, which can finish cooking in the soup, fine noodles or my favorite – Wontons. Grab a package of wonton wrappers at your market (if they don’t have these either, find a new market!).  You can use the turkey mixture as the stuffing or combine:

1 pound of ground white meat chicken or veal with the green part of 2 scallions, finely minced. Add 4 garlic cloves, grated, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon soy sauce or chili garlic sauce and 1 beaten egg.

Drop a teaspoon of the mixture into the center of the wrapper.  Dip your finger in a little egg wash (1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water), and run your finger around the border.  Fold into a triangle and seal.  Drop the sealed wontons into the soup and cook, or lightly brown or steam and add when the soup is finished.

Recipes: Soups, Gruenkern, Chicken, Turkey, Wontons, Meat, Kosher

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