I have a confession. I have never made meatballs before. I always feared a bland meatball or a dry meatball and well, let's be honest here... most meatballs require quite a bit of work. The art of laziness is a fine art that requires constant practice and attention. Meatballs are counterproductive to the refinement of my laziness skills. Still, I had some ground beef I wanted to use and I wanted to try something new. I'd eyeballed a few versions of Italian Wedding Soup but I wanted something with a bit more substance. I came across this Hearty Meatball Soup and decided I would use this recipe with a few changes. Here's what I gathered to start the soup: chicken broth, dry onion soup mix, diced tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, ground beef, orzo pasta, Italian bread crumbs, frozen mixed vegetables and black pepper.I also used water, a small can of tomato sauce, salt and adobo (you can use Lawry's or poultry seasoning).
The first thing I decided to do was put the meatball mixture together. I realized at this point that I had 2.25 pounds of ground beef but the recipe only called for 1 pound. I decided I'd make all of the meatballs and just freeze the extra for another day. To the ground beef I added the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, used 3 eggs total, 2 cups of bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons of adobo, 1 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper. I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment to mix this up.
I set aside the meatball mixture to move on to the next step. I added the chicken broth and 4 cups of water to a pot. I used a box and a can of chicken broth so it equaled about 46 ounces total. To the liquid I added a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes and a packet of dry onion soup mix.
The broth veggie mix needed to simmer for 15 minutes so while that was doing it's thing, I began rolling out some meatballs. Skywalker was going to help me but I have a sneaking suspicion that the bulk of meat to roll into mini balls seemed rather daunting to her because all of a sudden she had homework to do. What can I do? Encourage my daughter to set aside homework for my own selfish needs?? Of course not.. though let me tell ya, I was tempted! So off I went, all on my own, and rolled out oh, about 150 or so baby meatballs. Before I got too many meatballs made, I realized I wanted the meat mixture to be better combined so I got in there with my hands and kneaded the meat mixture until I felt it was well mixed. I figured squishing it through my hands, besides making me feel like a kid at play, would also help to distribute the flavor throughout. This is how I'll probably always make meatballs from now on. I feel like if I used my hands to mix the meatball mixture from start to finish, a lot of the fattiness from the ground beef would stick to my hands and potentially lead to dry meatballs. Fact? Fable? No idea, but this is what is logical in my mind.
That's a lot of meatballs!!
I added about 54 meatballs into the soup. Did I purposely line up all the meatballs and then count them all in order to do the math to determine approxiamtely a pound of meatballs to add to the soup? No! Cause that would be weird and neurotic. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not weird and neurotic... okay so at the very least they know I'm not neurotic... becuase at least THAT I do a better job at hiding. One by one I plopped in the totally random number of 54 meatballs into the soup, trying to evenly distribute them around the pot. Once they were in, I simmered for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes had passed, I added a cup of orzo pasta. I love orzo pasta. I'm not really sure why. Maybe because it's a rice-look-alike and as a kid I used to sit around and eat my mom's white rice like it was the bestest meal ever? No idea. Now the original recipe called for a cup of alphabet pasta which I'm sure would be totally cute. One of the pictures uploaded showed the mini-shells which I'm sure is another good option, but I had orzo in the house and I wanted to use orzo. I debated on adding more than a cup but I'm glad I didn't because it really turned out to be the perfect amount.
This soup was so delicious!! Keep in mind that the meatballs release a LOT of grease while cooking so you definitely want to skim the top of the soup before it is time to serve.
All in all, I was super happy with this recipe. I froze part of it into two separate containers for future meals, left one container in the fridge for leftovers and both Skywalker and I really enjoyed this soup for dinner. The broth was flavorful, the meatballs were tender and tasty and every spoonful included veggies and pasta. Yum! I have to wonder if orzo isn't the best option because a bigger pasta would have taken up too much room. I prefer to have a bit of everything in every bite and that's how this soup turned out.
(Adapted from Hearty Meatball Soup II)
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
4 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with juice
3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2.25 pounds ground beef
2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp adobo (can substitute poultry seasoning or Lawry's)
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
8 oz can tomato sauce
- Combine the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, Adobo, black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
- In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the onion soup mix, frozen mixed vegetables, chicken broth, diced tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, roll the meat mixture into tiny, bite-sized meatballs.
- Add the meatballs and a small can of tomato sauce to the soup.
- Simmer for another 20 minutes, then add the orzo pasta. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the meatballs and pasta are fully cooked.