Time is a funny thing. While looking through blog archives, I saw that this time 4 years ago, I was writing about vegetarian mac & cheese and drinking wine at karaoke nights with fellow grad students. Said grad school friends and I are very much not in school anymore and super-busy and often working weekends. However, when karaoke does happen? Whiskey all the way, baby. Wine makes me way too sleepy—not conducive to staying up past 9 pm.

Haha that said, it’s been months since I’ve been anywhere near a karaoke machine. January sends a lot of us into hibernation mode, and for better or worse, I am no exception. Once upon a time, I used to stay up late on the regular, and though it still happens on occasion when I have a good reason, I am totally okay with going to bed at grandma o’clock on a cold weekend night, especially if I’m clocking in at 7:30 the next morning.

I made this soup on a night when I was way more in the mood to chill in with Netflix and writing projects than to swipe on some smoky eye makeup and make first-date small talk over a $12 glass of wine. Some things are worth the headache, and some just aren’t. I think you know when you know, and staying home and making this soup instead was totally the right move that night.

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup

So this soup. It’s great for when you need (or want) to clean out the fridge or freezer. I used a bag of frozen grilled veggies from Trader Joe’s and some leftover red quinoa, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I added turmeric for color and to add a little cold-kicking action, but feel free to leave it out if you just can’t wrap your head around Italian-style seasonings and turmeric in the same bowl.

If you prefer to make the meatballs in a frying pan, go right ahead, but since finding out how easy they are to bake, I’m never doing it any other way again. Less cleanup = happy Jess. You can make them any size you like, too, just know that the cooking time may change. Adorable meatball scoopers like this one my sister gave me for Christmas are optional but totally encouraged if you want your meatballs to be uniform in size. meatball scoop

Turkey Meatball Quinoa Soup


  • 1 lb 98% lean ground turkey
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup rolled or instant oats
  • 1 small onion, diced, divided in half
  • clove garlic, diced
  • ½ cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • ¼ cup liquid egg whites or 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups water or broth
  • 4 cups mixed roasted or grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, pepper, etc)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix turkey, cheese, oats, half the onion, garlic, spinach, egg white, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Form into small balls (30-32). Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes, turning once partway through. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add rest of onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté until vegetables become soft. Add turmeric and red pepper flakes.
  5. Add water or broth. Bring to a boil and then lower heat.
  6. Add cooked, vegetables, quinoa, and meatballs.
  7. Cook another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 6-8

Do you go into hibernation mode in winter? Any favorite cold-weather foods? 

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