It’s cold outside, which means that I’m looking for those foods that are hearty and delicious. With Mister Man’s new basketball schedule coupled with Little Miss’s basketball schedule, I’m also a huge fan of meals I can get on the table quickly, especially since their homework load is growing. That was my inspiration for this meatball soup recipe.
In addition to that, the wee ones love helping me in the kitchen. When I find recipes that they can essentially cook on their own (with supervision – at 9 and 11 years old, they don’t get to use knives or the stove without me standing in the room with them just in case), it makes us all happy. Mister Man has been my meatball maker for the last couple years. He knows the meatball recipe by heart and can whip them up quickly. They worked beautifully in this soup.
To give it a little more body and some more Italian flavor, I added a can of diced organic tomatoes to the soup, thinking minestrone as an example. Unfortunately, Mister Man is a tomato hater. Back in those preschool birthday parties that always served pizza, I used to have to get napkins to wipe all the sauce off his pizza. He ate his pasta plain until a year or two ago and still picks out any tomato chunk from his sauce if I don’t manage to puree it perfectly. Fresh tomatoes? He’d rather starve.
As much as he enjoyed this soup when he took his first bite, I told him that he absolutely had to eat a tomato as part of our three bite rule. He resisted, but finally took that first bite. And declared that cooked tomatoes are actually really good. A soup that’s so good it gets my texture issue child to eat a new food and love it? Let’s just say this recipe is in regular rotation in our house.
Meatball Soup Recipe
This recipe can come together in 30 minutes, making it a great weeknight meal. Start out by dicing your veggies and sauteeing them in olive oil in your soup pot. While they’re cooking, prep the meatballs.
As with any meatball, add your meat (and I’m usually lazy and just use ground beef, but this is even more amazing if you do a 2/3 mix of ground beef and 1/3 mix of ground pork or veal) to a bowl, along with your egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. I used fresh parsley because I had it on hand, but in the winter you can bet that I usually am using dried parsley. As with every substitution, use 3 times more of the fresh herb than the dried because the drying concentrates it and shrinks it down. Mix it together until it’s uniformly combined and start rolling out meatballs that are about ping pong ball size. As you roll each meatball, place it back in your bowl so you don’t have to dirty any more dishes.
While you’re making your meatballs, keep an eye on your veggies to ensure they don’t burn. This is where having a helper in the kitchen comes in handy because they can focus on one task while you focus elsewhere. Once the veggies have sauteed and are translucent, add the chicken stock and your can of diced tomatoes, including the juices, and bring this to a boil. Once the meatball soup is boiling, carefully drop your meatballs into the pot one by one.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and simmer for ten minutes, then add your pasta and cook another seven minutes and serve immediately. Your pasta will finish cooking while the soup cools enough to eat, and it’s on the table oh so quickly!
This is best served the same day you make it because the pasta will become waterlogged if you keep it in the fridge for too long. My solution to this? I make sure I put in only enough pasta for the current meal and ensure I serve all the pasta with the soup on day one. When I store it, I add more uncooked pasta and that softens as it cools and then cooks completely when I reheat it the next day. But that’s me. The wee ones have no issues with the pasta and love it no matter what (I’m an al dente snob, I admit it). I do sometimes add some extra stock to thin it out a little when reheating, but aside from that, it’s good to go!
A quick and easy weeknight dinner. This kid-friendly meatball soup is ready in under a half hour and is filled with all sorts of healthy ingredients. Perfect for those colder weather days and nights.
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 c carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 rib celery
- 1 red onion
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 c Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 T dried parsley
- 1 T dried basil
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 4 c chicken stock
- 1 c dried pasta (farfalle, fusilli, cavatappi, gemelli, etc)
- Preheat your soup pot on mediu heat and add oil once heated, while you're cutting your veggies.
- Peel and slice your carrot into coins. Slice your celery into bite size pieces. Peel and chop your onion. Add your veggies to your soup pot once the oil is heated and shimmering.
- While your veggies are sauteeing, prep your meatballs. Add the meat to a bowl, along with the breadcrumbs, egg, basil, parsley, and about a half teaspoon of salt and quarter teaspoon of pepper. Mix with your hands until everything is fully incorporated.
- Roll your meat into ping pong size balls, returning the balls to your bowl once they're rolled to avoid dirtying more dishes. Keep an eye on your veggies to ensure they don't burn.
- Once your veggies have sauteed and are translucent but not turning dark, add your chicken stock and tomatoes, including the juice from your diced tomatoes to your soup pot and turn up the heat to bring to a boil.
- Once the stock is boiling, carefully add the meatballs one by one to ensure they don't splash out on you. Turn the heat to a simmer once all the meatballs are in the soup and cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add your pasta and cook another seven minutes. Check for flavor and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.
Feel free to mix up your meats. This is even more amazing with a mixture of ground beef, pork, and/or veal. If using fresh herbs, use three times the amount listed. It works with both fresh and dried herbs in the meatballs.