Friday, March 2, 2012
Mini Chicken Meatball Soup
My mom, since she's so wonderful, sent me a Valentine's Day care package. I felt like I was at camp again. It was amazing. Does everyone else feel totally special when they get a package in the mail? Even if I order something from Amazon, I get excited when it comes. But when Mom sends something, that's the absolute best.
This Valentine's Day, she sent heart-shaped Junior Mints, a special pack of Starburst, the adorable red slotted spoon below, and the absolute cutest pasta I have ever seen (above). Check it out - little hearts! I've been saving it for a special occasion, and when I saw a recipe that called for small pasta I thought it was just the time to break it out. Fortunately, this recipe only calls for a little bit of pasta, so I still have some left for a second recipe!
This recipe called to me because of the little meatballs. Mom absolutely loves Italian Wedding soup, and although the kind that comes in a can just entirely freaks me out, I am a fan myself when it's fresh. How can you not just love meatballs floating in soup. It reminds me of matzoh balls, but with more flavor. Fantastic.
I have to admit, I got a little bit wary adding water into this soup. When I make soup, I like to use all stock. That's where all the flavor is at! Next time, I probably would use all stock, but it was still really good. The broth picked up a lot of flavor from the meatballs and veggies while it was simmering, plus I seasoned it well with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. It was not the spice-fest that the Monkey Scientist loves, but it had a lot of flavor.
The most flavor in this recipe, though, came from the meatballs. They were jam packed with flavor! I had a jar of chicken seasoning in my pantry for a while now, and I was excited to get to use it. It really brought out the meatiness of the chicken and made the meatballs hearty and delicious. Even though it wasn't a soup day (it was in the mid 60s in DC), I was glad we squeezed this recipe in before soup season ends. We both thought it was quite delightful.
Mini Chicken Meatball Soup
adapted slighty from how Sweet it is
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 large egg
1/4 cup romano cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoon chicken or poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
4 cups raw spinach
32 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
4 cups water
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used the kind flavored with onion and garlic)
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
freshly ground sea salt and pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated romano cheese
1 1/2 cups small pasta (ditalini rigati works well)
1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl and mix until just combined. Taking 1 tablespoon or so of the mixture, roll into meatballs of desired size.
2. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add in spinach and garlic, stirring continuously until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove everything from the pot and set aside in a bowl.
3. With the heat still on medium, add remaining vegetable oil. Add in chicken meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook 2-3 minutes more. (If you make larger meatballs, you will have to cook a few minutes longer. Additionally I found it was easier to flip the meatballs with two small spoons since they are all crowded together in the pot.)
4. Once meatballs are browned, add onion and spinach mixture back to the pot, then add in stock, water, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, and salt and pepper. Stir gently making sure meatballs have started to float. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes.
5. Add in pasta and remaining Romano cheese, then cook for 8-10 minutes more before serving.
6. Serve with additional Parmesan or Romano cheese.