It has been an unusually cool and rainy January here in Florida this year, and although I feel sorry for all the tourists visiting our area from up north looking for beach weather, I rather enjoy a few weeks of cooler temperatures myself. When the thermostat drops, I begin to prepare heartier fare like polenta or main dish soups such as this meatball minestrone. This soup is a great way to use up refrigerator leftovers, and you can adapt it to whatever vegetables you have on hand. I used turkey sausage for my meatballs because I wanted to keep this soup as healthy as possible, but you could use pork sausage meat, veal, or even beef if you prefer. Another reason this soup is good is that you can use up any leftover pasta you have in the pantry. I had some leftover orecchiette that I threw in, but any small shaped dried pasta would work just fine. I had a can of pinto beans in my pantry, so I used them, but cannellini or kidney beans would work as well.
Between the meat, beans, and pasta, this soup becomes a complete meal in a bowl. Just serve with some crusty Italian bread and perhaps a crisp green salad and everyone in the family will be satisfied. This soup has so much going on, that you do not need any garnishes, but I did serve my soup topped with a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano cheese which finished the soup off nicely.
Deborah Mele 2016
Meatball Minestrone Soup
- 1 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs
- 1/3 Cup Milk
- 1 Pound Ground Turkey Sausage, Remove Meat From Casings (See Notes Above)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley
- 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
- 1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
- 3 Medium Carrots, Chopped
- 2 Celery Stalks, Chopped
- 1 Medium Zucchini, Chopped
- 1 (3 Ounce) Can Tomato Paste
- 1 (15 Ounce Can Chopped Tomatoes)
- 5 Cups Beef or Chicken Broth
- 3 Cups Finely Chopped Kale or Swiss Chard
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1 (15 Ounce) Can Pinto or Cannellini Beans, Drained
- 1 1/2 Cups Small Dried Pasta (I Used Orecchiette)
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until soft, then squeeze out most of the milk.
- Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl along with the ground meat, salt, pepper, egg, and parsley.
- Use your fingers to blend the mixture together.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Roll the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls, and drop into the hot frying pan.
- Lightly brown the meatballs on all sides, then set aside until needed.
- In a large stockpot, heat the remaining oil over medium heat, and cook the onion, carrot, and celery for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the zucchini, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the meatballs, kale, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Cook for 10 minutes until the meatballs have cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
- Add the pasta and beans, and continue to cook until the pasta is “al dente”.
- Serve hot, topped with a sprinkling of grated cheese.