Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Simple Italian Meatball Soup

The first time I made this soup from Emeril Lagasse I was expecting something good.  It came with rave reviews, and I generally enjoy the food he creates.  But Emeril's food can sometimes be a production to prepare so I also was expecting a bit of work.  Both of my expectations were wrong.  For one, this soup isn't good--it's fabulous.  For another, it couldn't have been easier to prepare.  Although he listed the preparation difficulty as "intermediate", I had to stop and try to think of why when I was finished.  It truly did not feel like you needed an intermediate level of cooking knowledge to prepare this soup--the most difficult part is browning the meatballs prior to adding them to the stock and vegetables.  They require careful watch and frequent turning so they don't stick to the pan.  After you know that, I think the preparation should be notched down to easy.  Or simple.  Piece of cake even.

I doubled the meatball  portion of the recipe, but not for using in the soup.  I made extra for some meatball sub sandwiches I am making tomorrow for dinner.  They are so good that you may want to consider doing the same thing.  If meatball subs are not your thing, then the meatballs also would be perfect for spaghetti or a meatball beef stroganoff.

Originally posted January 2009 ; Revised March 2011

3/4 pound ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon summer savory
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 pinches crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 generous tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon summer savory
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup orzo pasta
2 1/2 cups fresh spinach
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese, for optional garnish


1. In medium mixing bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, summer savory, oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.  Divide the meat mixture into tablespoons and roll into smooth balls in your hands. Set rolled meatballs aside.

2. In a large soup pot or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add half of the rolled meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all side, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate and set aside. Brown the remaining meatballs in the same manner and set aside.

3. In the same pot, add the chopped celery and onion and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for one additional minute.  Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes and their juices, beef broth, water, summer savory, oregano, and salt. Return the meatballs to the soup pot and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat so that the soup just simmers and cook for 30 minutes.

 4. Using a spoon, carefully skim any fat that has accumulated on the top of the soup and discard.  Add pasta to the hot soup, stir well, and cook for 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked through. Add spinach and remove from heat. 

5.  Stir in spinach until fully wilted.  Top with chopped basil and serve soup in wide bowl, garnished with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Recipe adapted from TheFoodNetwork.com.
This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday.