In which I make pork meatballs
Who even knew that Cream of Onion soup was a thing? Apparently, it’s just me. I asked John that question when he got home and he knew. I know my friends are laughing at me as they read this.
I haven’t used canned soup in over a decade. There were all those articles about sodium content and then I realized that it just didn’t taste like homemade soup from fresh ingredients. I am a snob. I like what Andy Warhol did with cans of soup. I ate canned soup growing up. I have eaten recipes that other people have made with canned soup, but I just didn’t buy it or use it in my own cooking.
So when Miles chose this recipe and it called for a can of cream of onion soup, I had no idea that was a thing that still existed. I knew about cream of asparagus, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, I think I had even seen cream of shrimp at one point, but because I don’t look in the canned soup section of the grocery store, I just didn’t know.
In the rules I set up for myself, I decided that I was going to follow the recipes exactly as written (except in cases where there were no instructions). So with my shopping list, the boys and I set out for the grocery store.
The grocery store with children is always a challenge. I like the company, to a degree, but they need to figure out how to steer the cart where I want it. I hate the number of times I have to say “no” about things. We are normally the loudest people in the store (and everywhere else we ever go), but our loud is normally more pleasant than obnoxious (or so I like to think). We enjoy being together and making each other laugh and we are friendly. Anyway, we went to the meat section and there was no ground pork. There was pork sausage and pizza sausage, but no plain ground pork. I asked the guy at the counter if there was any. He explained that he couldn’t get any out because he was cutting something else and cross-contamination and whatnot, but if I could wait until 2. It was noon. I wasn’t going to drive back to Stoughton for ground pork. I could’ve gone to the meat market across the street from my house, or as the kids suggested, I could just grind my own. It’s a pain, but doable. I grabbed some country style ribs and put them in my cart and started to walk to the yogurt area, when I saw the guy from the meat counter waving behind me. I’m sure we were hard to find in the store since we are so quiet and all…This sweet, sweet man had taken pity on me and had stopped what he was doing and secured me the two pounds of ground pork I needed for the recipe. He wouldn’t let me thank him or say anything to him about it or even acknowledge that he had done it because the store cameras may pick up the action. I just hope he realizes how much I appreciate his efforts.
I, stupidly, didn’t start the recipe until much later than I should’ve because I was baking something else that I had started too late. The oven was set at 375 for that and I forgot to turn it up to 400 which I didn’t realize until the end of the cooking time. It might’ve cost me a bit on the browning of the meatballs, but they were still cooked through. I ended up getting supper on the table and had just enough time to eat before I sent John off to a Euchre tournament at the coffeehouse. You know, like everyone does. I figured it might be a good way to start meeting people in town. John likes Euchre.
At dinner, instead of having epic rap battles, coming up with punny new jokes, or discussing new game ideas, we discussed these meatballs. Nick was sure they had too many onions and picked them out. (Reminder to self to cut them smaller next time). The flavor of the pork was good. The bread soak held in the juice. Nick doesn’t think meatballs should have bread. I didn’t bother to explain the bonding principles to him this time. I just rolled my eyes. For some reason, the meatballs’ flavor reminded me of the inside of potstickers. No idea why. The cream of onion soup didn’t make the creamy sauce I was expecting from reading the recipe. It was creamy, but could’ve probably benefitted from the addition of some milk to thin it. John commented that this was one of those recipes where, if he had made it, he would’ve been very proud of himself, but because I had made it, it was just ok. Miles ate it and declared it delicious, but that might’ve been partially prompted by the ego he had invested in having chosen the recipe. He declined seconds and was “starving” by bedtime.
It’s not a pretty recipe. It doesn’t make something eye-catchingly beautiful. I’m sure there are ways to make it look better, but I’m not going to make that sort of effort for family dinner when it’s already late and everyone is starving and has places to be.
This is the sort of dish that is a great base for experimentation. It could benefit from the addition of mushrooms, or French-fried onions on top of it. You could easily make the balls smaller and serve them at a party on toothpicks. Throw them on bread with whatever sort of veg you want, add some cheese, make a sandwich. Make the meatballs, make the soup, make meatball soup. Add to pasta. Meatballs are good. Make your own cream sauce for these, if you prefer.
These are good basic pork meatballs. Not the sort of dish I get overly excited about, but am rarely disappointed to be served.
*This recipe is part of a red spiral bound book that was originally the Iowa State College Freshman Handbook that was presented to the Class of ’53. The pages have been pasted over with recipes.