Cantonese Spiced Pork Meatball Soup

Chinese chefs grind far more pork than any other meat for various dumplings, savory cakes, meatballs and stuffed vegetables, and the meatballs bound with rice, egg, and watercress for this spicy Cantonese soup have to be some of the most delectable ever conceived.

Experiment with any number of spices to season the broth, if you like, and note that the ground meat of chicken legs makes just as good meatballs as the pork. Ground pork, chicken and even turkey can be found packaged in many grocery stores, but if they don't look impeccably fresh, I buy parts and grind them myself.

Cantonese Spiced Pork Meatball Soup
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  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pound ground lean pork
  • 1/2 cup long grain rice
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons watercress
  • salt
  1. In a large saucepan or pot, heat the oil over moderate heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and stir till softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomato puree, allspice, and nutmeg, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the pork, rice, egg, watercress, and salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix thoroughly with your hands till well blended, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon till the mixture is fluffy. To shape the meatballs, roll the mixture into balls about 1/2 inch in diameter.
  4. Drop the meatballs into the simmering broth and stir gently to keep them from sticking to one another. Cover the pan and simmer the soup about 30 minutes longer.
  5. Serve piping hot in wide soup bowls.
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