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When my hubby gives me that look of longing, I so know what that means.

When he gets that glint of desire in his eyes, after five years of marriage I totally know what he’s after.

No, not that. Geeze, Louise.

Please, he wants soup. The heavenly Chicken Meatball Soup that he’s loved (well, not as much as me, of course) since I started making it six long years ago.

It’s by Mary Sue Milliken, one half of the culinary duo that oversees Border Grill in Santa Monica and Las Vegas. (The other half is Susan Feniger, of course.)

The recipe is from the cookbook, “Cooking From the Heart” (Broadway Books), a compilation of recipes and anecdotes from 100 chefs that was put together to raise funds for Share Our Strength, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-hunger agencies.

Why is this soup so incredible? Well, it has meatballs for one thing. And who doesn’t love meatballs? It’s also a super-simple broth of chicken stock, onions, carrots, green cabbage, and a couple of plum tomatoes (use canned if they’re not in season), that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. One or two jalapenos give it just the slightest kick. Orzo makes it substantial enough to be a light lunch or supper. And the final drizzle of white vinegar somehow miraculously ties all the flavors together, while elevating them at the same time, too.

It’s a soup that soothes, comforts, nourishes, and puts a contented smile on your face.

One spoonful, and you’ll be hooked. One spoonful, and whomever you share it with will be giving you that yearnful look, too.

Chicken Meatball Soup

(serves 6)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped, stems discarded

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat

1 large egg, beaten

2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

4 medium carrots, diced

1/4 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and julienned

3 medium plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced

10 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups cooked rice or small pasta such as orzo, optional

3 tablespoons white vinegar

Combine garlic, cilantro, 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, chicken, and egg in a mixing bowl. Stir in bread crumbs.

Roll meat mixture between your palms into walnut-size balls. Place them on a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add onion, carrots, the 2 teaspoons of salt, and the 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add cabbage, jalapenos, and tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Heat remaining oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until nearly smoking. Add chilled meatballs in batches, shaking pan to prevent sticking. Brown the meatballs on all sides and transfer them with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Add cooked meatballs to the simmering soup and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. For a heartier version, add rice or pasta, if desired. Stir in vinegar.

From “Cooking From the Heart”