Friday, March 15, 2013

Recipe: Meatball Minestrone

Minestrone has to be my favorite soup ever, bar none. With its savory meatballs, plump noodles and just about any vegetables and beans you care to put in, floating in a rich, tomato-flavored broth, this soup is almost a meal in itself!
This recipe has been in the works since 1998, when across-the-street neighbor Sarah B. and I first wrote it down. Such terms as “2 handfulls green beans” have been refined, and instead of soup bones, I now use seasoned meatballs based on the Meatball Soup recipe from our Better Homes and Gardens Italian Cook Book (circa 1979). It is still a work in progress, but everyone we’ve served it to has enjoyed this hearty soup. The recipe makes roughly 6 quarts—enough to serve dinner guests, or to freeze for later…if you can keep from eating it for lunch the next day!

~Meatball Minestrone~

Soup Ingredients:
3 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth OR 1 (1 qt) box beef or vegetable broth, plus equal amount of water
2 cups each chopped carrots, celery, green beans and red-skinned potatoes
1 tsp minced garlic
A scant ¼ tsp each dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and marjoram OR ½ tsp each of fresh herbs listed (minced) OR 1 tsp Italian seasoning
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried parsley OR 1 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley
1 large or 2 small bay leaves (optional)*

Place in an 8-quart stockpot on low heat. Make meatballs as follows:

Meatballs Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tsp salt
½ tsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley OR 1 tsp dried parsley
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

     Mix thoroughly in an electric mixer and roll into 1” diameter balls. Drop into soup. Cover soup and let slow-cook for 3-6 hours for best results.
     One hour before serving time, bring soup to a boil and add 8 oz dried pasta of choice (small shells, macaroni, rotini or penne work best). Cook pasta until just al dente (tender to bite), and the vegetables are soft. Then add:

1 cup frozen peas
1 (8.75 oz) can kidney beans
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce OR diced tomatoes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

     Turn the burner to low heat and simmer a few minutes, to allow the flavors to blend. You may need an additional can of chicken broth or extra water and a bullion cube to correct the flavor and amount of broth. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
     Serve immediately and pass grated Parmesan cheese at table, if desired.

* If your bay leaves are crushed, like mine are, you can put a teaspoon or so in a tea-ball and hang it from the edge of the pot via the little chain and hook attached. Be sure the broth covers the tea-ball at least half-way, and remove the tea-ball before serving.

~Try substituting steak for meatballs—chop the steak into tiny pieces (about ½”) to ensure they pick up the flavor of the broth.
~Add other veggies and/or beans such as chopped cabbage, spinach or leftover steamed kale* (added five minutes before serving) and garbanzo beans.
~Try it with chicken or turkey for something different.
There are endless variations of this satisfying soup!

* When adding kale to soup, it's best to use pre-cooked kale, as fresh tends to have too much flavor of its own.

Bon appetite, Gentle Readers!
God bless,

1 comment:

  1. Sounds delicious! Hearty soups like this are fantastic in the winter.


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