Warm soup for a cold night

Warm soup for a cold night

This is one of my favorite soup recipes from one of my favorite set of cookbooks – those by Susie Fishbein. The recipe “Meatball Minestrone” is from “Kosher by Design” and according to Fishbein, “was posted on the Internet years ago.”

It can easily be doubled and frozen. Many markets have cans of veggies on sale now so it’s a great time to stock up on the necessary ingredients. I made a batch last week and inadvertently added a can of tomato sauce instead of two cans of diced tomatoes (the cans really look identical), and I didn’t have celery in the house (my husband hates it anyway). I have to say, the soup came out great. I also substituted kosher white meat ground turkey instead of using ground beef – less fat! A few of us in the office made the recipe and each had their own take. Some looked so different. One quart in my refrigerator got a little thick from the pasta settling. When reheating, I added some more broth and it was perfect. The bottom line is that the soup is delicious and you really cannot mess it up. Follow the amounts and enjoy how the house will smell and how your family will think you are by far the best cook (thank you Susie Fishbein). Buy a nice baguette to serve with the soup and enjoy!!!!!!

Meatball Minestrone

1 (10-ounce package) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry Italian-style bread crumbs or flavored dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
8 cups or 64 ounces beef broth (can use 4 beef bouillon cubes in 8 cups water)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with its liquid
1 (1-pound) can red kidney beans with its liquid
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup elbow or rotini pasta, uncooked

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Squeeze the water out of the spinach. Place it in a large bowl and add the ground beef, egg, salt, bread crumbs, and pepper. Knead and mix together. Shape into 1-inch meatballs.

Pour the olive oil directly onto a cookie sheet; do not line with tin foil, you will want to be able to scrape the surface later. Place the meatballs on the oiled cooke sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the sheet; set aside. Using a metal spatula or spoon, scrape the drippings over the medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes or until the onion gets soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, tomatoes with their liquid, kidney beans with their liquid, oregano, and basil. Cover. Reduce the heat. You want it to simmer but not reach a full boil.

Add the carrots and celery. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Stir in the pasta. Re-cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir once or twice to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Place the meatballs into the soup and heat through. If you are making this soup in advance, some of the liquid may get soaked up into the meatballs and pasta. If this happens, just add another cup or two of beef broth when reheating.

Yield: 8-10 servings.

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