In this savory stew, succulent pieces of braised beef mingle with an array of root vegetables, creating a harmonious medley of flavors and textures. Slow-cooked to perfection in a robust broth infused with fragrant herbs and spices, this hearty dish is the epitome of winter comfort food. The tender beef melts in your mouth, while the vegetables absorb the savory essence of the broth. Served piping hot, this wholesome stew is sure to warm both body and soul, making it a beloved addition to any winter menu. With its rich, comforting taste, it’s a dish that will have the whole family coming back for seconds.
This hearty stew, featuring succulent chunks of beef bathed in a flavorful tomato broth, is the perfect remedy for the chilliest winter evenings when a little extra comfort is in order. Drawing inspiration from the time-honored tradition of Italian wedding soup, which boasts a fragrant trifecta of onion, celery, and carrot along with dainty meatballs, I decided to put my own spin on things.
By swiftly placing the meatballs under the broiler’s heat, they acquire a glorious golden crust. This process not only caramelizes the outer layer but also locks in the tender, juicy goodness within. While it might appear to be an additional step, the resulting enhanced depth of flavor is absolutely worth the effort!
The addition of petite pasta varieties imparts a nostalgic touch, reminiscent of the comforting warmth found in a bowl of mom’s classic chicken noodle soup. As the ingredients meld together, they gently simmer in a broth enlivened with the zing of canned tomatoes. This infusion creates a luxuriously thick and hearty texture, all without the need for an extensive simmering process.
This soup is a marriage of wholesomeness and robust flavor, appealing to both discerning palates and those with more selective tastes. Its versatility is a standout feature, allowing for easy customization. Feel free to swap in any broth or ground meat you have readily available, making this meatball soup recipe a flexible option for any kitchen.
Ingredients for this Meatball Soup Recipe
In crafting this meatball soup, a diverse array of vegetables and aromatic ingredients are employed to create a leaner yet deeply satisfying flavor profile. This recipe, however, is more of a flexible blueprint than a strict set of instructions. Feel free to tailor it to your own preferences and ingredient availability. Here’s the basic foundation, along with some suggestions for adjustments to suit your specific needs:
For this meatball soup, you have a range of options to customize the flavors and ingredients to your liking:
- Ground Meat: Choose between lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey based on your preference or dietary needs.
- Egg: It serves as a binding agent for the meatballs, ensuring they hold their shape.
- Parmesan: This adds a savory umami flavor, both in the meatballs and as a garnish. If you prefer a dairy-free option, you can omit this ingredient.
- Breadcrumbs: These prevent the meatballs from becoming dry and add a pleasing texture. Opt for unseasoned varieties like Panko, or use gluten-free breadcrumbs if desired.
- Seasonings: Dried oregano, sweet Spanish paprika, and fresh parsley contribute to the aromatic quality and depth of flavor in both the soup and meatballs. Salt and pepper enhance the overall taste, while red pepper flakes offer an optional spicy kick just before serving.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This enriches the meatballs and helps bind them together. Choose a high-quality, extra virgin variety for the best flavor.
- Fresh Vegetables: Onion, carrot, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic form the essential foundation for a classic homemade soup. The garlic quantity is flexible based on your preference – use more if you’re a garlic enthusiast.
- Broth: You have options like homemade or store-bought chicken, beef, or vegetable stock. Beef broth imparts the richest flavor. Adjust the quantity of broth to achieve your preferred consistency. Combining a 32-ounce package of broth with 1-2 cups of water is a budget-friendly alternative, though it will result in a lighter soup.
- Tomatoes: They provide a balance of brightness and richness to the soup. Opt for high-quality, unseasoned, and unflavored canned or jarred peeled tomatoes, such as San Marzano.
- Pasta: While dialtini is the recommended choice, you can also use pasta shells, macaroni, or any small, short variety to evoke a nostalgic quality. The type of pasta you choose can add a distinct touch to the final dish.
How to Make this Meatball Soup Recipe
Creating this meatball soup is a straightforward process, thanks to the efficiency of your oven’s broiler. It swiftly browns the meatballs with minimal fuss, taking just minutes. After that, it’s a matter of letting everything simmer until it reaches the perfect level of tenderness, bursting with a rich, savory flavor. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making it:
Prepare the flavorful meatball mixture by gathering 1 ½ pounds of your chosen ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Add in a whisked egg, ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese, ⅓ cup of breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons of oregano, ½ teaspoon of paprika, ½ cup of finely chopped parsley leaves, and 2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the mixture, and season it generously with a pinch of salt and pepper. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly, ensuring an even distribution of flavors and textures. This aromatic blend will form the heart of your delicious meatball soup.
Shape the meatball mixture into individual meatballs, aiming for approximately 1 ½ tablespoons of mixture for each. Lay them out on a generously oiled sheet pan, ensuring they have some space between them. Place the pan under the broiler and let them cook until they achieve a delectable golden brown hue. Keep in mind that the meatballs will continue to cook once they are added to the soup, so a duration of 5 to 8 minutes under the broiler should suffice. This step imparts a lovely caramelized crust to the meatballs, enhancing their flavor and texture in the final soup.
Begin by softening the vegetables. Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 chopped bell pepper, and 1 to 2 minced garlic cloves. Allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes.Next, it’s time to simmer. Incorporate 5 to 6 cups of broth, 1 (28 ounce) can of peeled tomatoes along with their juices, 1 teaspoon of oregano, and ½ teaspoon paprika. Season the mixture to your taste with salt and pepper. Let it cook over medium to medium-high heat until it thickens, which should take about 10 minutes.Finally, add the meatballs and pasta to the pot. Allow them to cook until the pasta reaches a tender consistency and the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, which should take approximately 10 more minutes. This step brings all the elements together, creating a harmonious and flavorful meatball soup.
To complete the dish, take the soup off the heat and incorporate the remaining chopped parsley. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top it off with an extra sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. For a hint of heat, you can finish it off with a light sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. Now, it’s time to savor and enjoy this comforting and flavorful meatball soup!
Leftovers, Storage and Freezing
To refrigerate: Allow the soup to cool slightly before transferring it into airtight containers. Ensure it reaches room temperature before sealing and placing in your refrigerator. This method preserves the soup’s freshness for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to savor it again, gently reheat over medium heat. If the consistency is thicker than desired, you can add a splash of broth or water to achieve the preferred thickness.To freeze: If you plan to freeze the soup, it’s best to do so before adding the pasta. Allow the soup to cool completely and portion it into freezer-safe containers, leaving some space at the top for expansion during freezing. Seal tightly and label with the date for easy reference. When you’re eager to enjoy a bowl of this delicious soup, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Meanwhile, cook the pasta separately in a pot of boiling, salted water, then drain. Just before serving, stir the cooked pasta into the warmed soup, ensuring a perfect texture and taste. This method preserves the integrity of both the soup and the pasta, resulting in a delightful meal every time.
What to Serve with Meatball Soup
Meatball soup pairs wonderfully with a variety of side dishes. Here are some tasty options to complement this hearty soup:
- Crusty Bread or Garlic Bread: A slice of warm, crusty bread or a serving of garlic bread is perfect for sopping up the delicious broth.
- Side Salad: A fresh salad with crisp greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite dressing adds a refreshing contrast to the richness of the soup.
- Grilled Vegetables: Lightly seasoned and grilled vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, or asparagus provide a flavorful and nutritious side.
- Herb-Roasted Potatoes: Tender, oven-roasted potatoes with a medley of herbs and a touch of olive oil make a satisfying and hearty accompaniment.
- Rice or Quinoa: A serving of fluffy rice or quinoa can be a great addition for extra substance and to soak up the flavors of the soup.
- Cheese and Charcuterie Board: A selection of cheeses, cured meats, crackers, and some olives or pickles can elevate your meal.
- Vegetable Medley: Sautéed or steamed mixed vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and green beans provide a colorful and nutritious side.
- Coleslaw: A crunchy, tangy coleslaw adds a delightful contrast in texture and flavor to the soup.
- Focaccia: A slice of herb-infused focaccia bread is a delicious option for dipping in the broth.
- Herbed Couscous: Light and fluffy couscous seasoned with herbs makes a great side dish that complements the soup.
Feel free to mix and match these suggestions based on your preferences and what you have available. Enjoy your meal!