kale wild rice soup

Kale-Wild Rice Soup with Chicken Meatballs and Lots of Baby Leeks

My weekly goal during the pandemic: use up all the ingredients from my produce delivery. It’s still spring and was 35° this morning so that means a lot of kale, onions of all sorts, and turnips.

kale wild rice soup

Kale-Wild Rice Soup with Lemon-Pepper Chicken Meatballs

A hearty soup featuring chicken meatballs, spring vegetables and wild rice.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs I used breadcrumbs we made from the heels of white and marble rye
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 3 baby leeks, whites and greens, chopped
  • 3 spring onions, whites and greens, chopped
  • 1 bunch baby Hakurei turnips, diced
  • 1 big bunch red kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8-10 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 8 oz cooked wild rice I used the parcooked wild rice they sell in vaccum-sealed packets at Target


  • Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, breadcrumbs, lemon pepper and marjoram. Form into roughly a dozen 1 1/2 inch balls. Arrange on the lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, saute garlic, leeks, turnips, onions, and kale until the vegetables are softened. Add the broth, meatballs, spices, and wild rice and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender.
  • Serve immediately.
Keyword kale, meatballs, soup

One of my goals for 2020 was to really get good at making homemade soup. I grew up in a canned soup family (although my grandfather did make beef stew somewhat regularly) which is fine, I still eat a fair amount of canned soup (as evidenced by my posts over on Cooking in Isolation) when I don’t have a lot of time or options for lunch but homemade really is better 99.99% of the time. Normally this time of year is way too hot for soup but last night I  had to wear socks to bed so here we are. Soup.

I had some beautiful red kale to use (literally beautiful, what a lovely shade of purple it was) plus some baby turnips, baby leeks (as cute as they sound), and some spring onions from a couple of weeks ago. I like to use the tops of my leeks anyway but with baby leeks (you might need a CSA or farmers market for those) they are really tender, to begin with, and cook up pretty quickly. I think to think of them as another vegetable and not just an onion substitute.

Chicken makes great meatballs for soup because it is so light and non-greasy but it does require a bit of seasoning so I was heavy-handed with the lemon-pepper. It can take it. The par-cooked packets of wild rice Target oddly sells are a real-time saver and you can dump them right in the soup without heating them up. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen them so if you have to, just make some wild rice separately the night before or wait until you have some leftovers. They had a nuttiness that really brings out some depth to the kale. Or toss in some tiny pasta instead.

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