It’s cold here. It’s cold here and it’s soup weather and time to pull out the big guns. And this, my friends, is very definitely the big guns of yummy winter soups.
The recipe comes from the Food Network kitchens, who, as I’ve mentioned before, seem to consistently turn out pretty good food. It’s a wonderful soup, but I just had to add some meatballs and I have to say, wow. Good call.
I’m not sure I really need to say anything more really. I was cold and I made this soup and then I wasn’t cold anymore. Not only wasn’t I cold anymore, I was warm and I was happy. That’s what you want from soup, right? You want to be warmed, but you also want that sort of comforting warmth that brings a smile to your face.
So, all I’m saying is that the Italians have been making minestrone soup for like hundreds of years which has brought comfort to millions. I had to add meatballs to throw in a little joy. I give you meatball minestrone ....comfort and joy.
Meatball Minestrone Soup
Adapted from the Food Network Kitchens
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced pancetta (about 1 ounce)
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks (with leaves), chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
7 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
1/3 cup tubetti or other small pasta
1 can cannellini beans (about 16 ounces), with liquid
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(I add a piece of parmesano reggiano rind to the broth)
Meatballs (recipe below)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until slightly crisp and the fat has rendered, about 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are somewhat soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the dried marjoram and saute for a couple more minutes.
Add the zucchini and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and broth (add parmesan rind here if using), and bring to a boil. Add about 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.
In a small bowl, mash half of the beans with a fork. Add the mashed and whole beans to the soup and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.
Add the browned meatballs, stirring them into the soup. Stir in the pasta and bring to a slow boil for about 20 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.
Divide among warm soup bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped basil. Serve immediately with more cheese for passing at the table.
1 lb. ground meat (I use turkey, but not ground turkey breast)
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper
In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except for the meat. Once that is mixed well, add the meat, incorporating with the other ingredients by hand.
Form into small meatballs, about 1 inch across.
Spray a large sauté pan with Pam, then drizzle the pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Sauté the meatballs until browned on all sides (or mostly) and then drop into the soup.