White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup with Spiced Turkey Meatballs

It is once again the season for soup! I must confess that I am not a lover of soups in summer. Chilled cucumber soup, Vichyssoise, even gazpacho most often leave me… cold (sorry, bad pun). The soups that I love and long for are cool weather soups that are warming, filling and comforting with ingredients that reflect the season. I also love the versatility of soups: they are great for a solo lunch, an after school snack or for a simple supper rounded out with a loaf of crusty bread, a hunk of cheese and maybe a salad.

I’m thinking that this year I might start Soup Kitchen Mondays here at my house. I will spend some time on the weekend making an aromatic stock and then make a huge pot of soup on Monday afternoon, enough to feed 12 or 14 people. Then whichever friends happen to be free can stop by, perhaps with a bottle of wine or a loaf of bread or something edible to share, and we can all have a low-key, unfussy meal, talk and enjoy an evening together. What a nice alternative to a more formal dinner party. Anyone in?

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I have a surplus of swiss chard in my front garden and with the weather turning a bit chilly in the mornings and evenings the re-introduction of leeks and white beans feels right. I added in the turkey meatballs for Max in hopes that he would overlook the chard and at least be willing to give this soup a try. Success! He came home from school today, and before he started in on his homework he had TWO bowls. His only addition was hot sauce (the kid is crazy about Valentina hot sauce) and even ate some of the chard.

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup with Spiced Turkey Meatballs

A bit of parmesan, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler, is a nice addition to this soup but purely optional. Also, if you don’t have the time to cook the beans from scratch you could always just open up a can or two. Just remember that 1 cup of dried cannellini beans equals 2 1/2 cups of cooked beans. If you end up using canned beans just add an additional 2 cups of chicken stock to replace the bean liquid.

For cooking the beans:
1 cup dried cannellini beans
1/2 tablespoon fine grain sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon
1 medium leek, sliced and cleaned well of any grit or dirt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of swiss chard, tough stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons (about 6 cups)
1 litre of chicken stock
Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Thinly shaved pieces of Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

Put 4 litres of water into a large pot and add the beans, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, the bay leaf and sprig of thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer the beans, partially covered for approximately 2 hours, until the bean are tender. Remove the beans using a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Reduce the bean liquid down until you have about 2 cups.

To make the meatballs place the turkey meat in a medium bowl and add the minced onion, and parsley. Using a mortar and pestle grind the 1/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes with the coarse sea salt and the cayenne until the chilli flakes are well ground. Add the spice mixture to the ground meat, onion and parsley. Season with some more salt and pepper and mix gently. In order to check the seasonings take a tablespoon of your turkey mixture and fry it in a pan until cooked through. Taste this cooked portion to determine whether more salt, pepper or spices are needed. Once you are satisfied with the seasoning form the turkey mixture into small meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Set aside.

In a medium soup pot heat the butter and olive oil and add the sliced leeks. Sauté leeks over low heat until soft and fragrant but take care not to allow the leeks to brown. Once the leeks are cooked down, add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute or so before adding the sliced swiss chard. Cook the mixture until the chard is wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the reduced bean liquid, salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and cook in the simmering soup for 8 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Stir in the beans and cook for 5 minutes longer. Check and adjust seasonings. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve hot!

Serves 4.

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10 Responses to White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup with Spiced Turkey Meatballs

  1. Tracy says:

    I'm in. What a great idea 🙂

  2. bornot2be says:


    I enjoy finding a new recipe on your blog to start my day, and think this one will be simmering on the stove by noon. As I have no garden, therefore no swiss chard, I may substitute the kale that has been languishing in the vegetable crisper,..tough stems removed of course!


  3. Bonnie says:

    I'm not a fan of greens, but I know they are sooo healthy so I put them in soups. Unfortunately, I don't like to eat soup in the summer either, so that is a long time without greens! Especially as Iplant them in the garden every year, hoping I will change my mind about eating them sauteed. One day…

    A Soup Kitchen Monday sounds like a great idea! I may just borrow that idea. A few years ago, I started a Soup Kitchen Night at my house just before Christmas. I have a couple (or three) kinds of soup on the stove, bread, salad, and sometimes a whole ham ands some cheese and everyone helps themselves. It is such a relaxing way to entertain at that time of the year, and everyone loves the break from the usual holiday-party caloric overload.
    I'll be trying this recipe for sure!

  4. Sarolta says:

    I'm in too!! 🙂

    This is very inspiring! Do don't make enough soups and really there's no reason why not!

  5. Sheryl says:

    …and is Soup Kitchen Monday starting this week?? Y-U-M

  6. Kitchen says:

    Tracy: I really wish that you could come for Monday night soup. It would be nice to meet you.

    Bess: Thanks for the comment, I am hoping that your soup turned out well. I think that the kale would be a great addition. Thanks too, for picking up the wine for me!

    Bonnie: I LOVE the idea of a Soup Kitchen Night in December in lieu of a cocktail party. I will definitely be stealing that idea…

    Sarolta: Do you want to cook with me at the first Soup Kitchen Night?

    Sheryl: This Monday (the 20th) I'm actually already committed to going out for dinner so, ironically the very first Soup Kitchen Monday will be taking place on…TUESDAY, September 21st. Sometimes you just need to be flexible with these things. I'm going to make either lentil soup with parmesan crisps or carrot, leek and cardamom soup. You and Jenny around?

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  9. Trish says:

    Julie, just stumbled on your blog. This soup looks fabulous. Will be making it on the weekend, methinks. My daughter, Gemma, (formerly of Max’s school) would love this!

  10. Donna says:

    Made this soup for the first time and it was so easy and deliciously healthy! Added a bit of chicken boullion to the soup for added flavor and that was it. Thanks for the recipe.

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