Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

I could make soup every night of the week, and husband would be a happy man.

This recipe is from ‘The Complete Book of 400 Soups’.

I altered slightly, all noted below.

Meatballs in Pasta Soup with Basil

14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped ** for the onion, celery and carrot – I used the Trader Joes mirepoix mix.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped ** I couldn’t find a red chili, so I subbed a small jalapeno
1 tblsp tomato paste
11 oz small pasta shapes
large handfull of fresh basil, torn
salt and black pepper
basil leaves to garnish
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For the meatballs:
1 thick slice white bread, crust removed  ** I used wheat bread
3 tblsp milk
12oz lean ground beef or veal  ** I used ground turkey
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, crushed
grated rind of 1 orange
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp olive oil

First prepare the meatballs.  Break the bread into small pieces and place them in a bowl.  Add the mile and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.  Add the beef, parsley, orange rind and garlic, and season well.  Mix well with your hands.

When the bread is thoroughly incorporated with the meat, add enough beaten egg to bind the mixture. Shape small spoonfuls of the mixture into balls about the size of a large olive.
** I used a little too much egg (approx half), the mixture would be fine without adding the egg.

Heat the oil (from meatball ingredients) in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches for 6 to 8 minutes, until browned all over. Use tongs or a draining spoon to removed them from the pan and set aside.
** Do this in a separate pan than the one you’ll be making soup in. I didn’t and had quite a mess on my hands…

Puree the cannellini beans with a little of the stock in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the oil (from the soup ingredients) in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic, chili, celery and carrot; cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.
** Cook gently? This was a new phrase for me. So I covered and turned the heat to low.

Stir in the tomato paste, the bean puree and the remaining vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
** I also added 2 cups of water. The stock alone wasn’t enough liquid.

Stir in the pasta shapes and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, but not soft. Add the meatballs and basil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season the soup well before ladling it into warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a basil leaf, and serve freshly grated Parmesan cheese with the soup.
** As you can see in the picture below, I skipped more basil. I used a Parm/Asiago blend from Trader Joes.
** 11 oz of pasta is A LOT, I would cut this to 7 or 8 oz max.

 We had a friend over for dinner when I served this soup, and we all liked it.  Husband and friend did not like the orange rind in the meatballs.  And as I said above, 11 oz of pasta is a lot, I would definitely cut this down.  I’ll be making this one again, with a few slight tweaks.

P.S. – By the time this soup got to leftovers the next day, it had turned into a pasta dish instead of a soup.  The 11 oz. of pasta had soaked up all the liquid.  So less pasta, and adding 3 or 4 cups of water will keep this a soup until leftovers.

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