Italian Wedding Soup

Meatballs marry leafy greens, pasta and carrots to live happily ever after in this Italian Wedding Soup. While this is a popular soup for weddings the name refers to the vegetables and meats marrying well together. Minestrata Maritata. Married soup.

This Italian American version is lighter than the traditional Neapolitan version that uses an abundance of meat including prosciutto on the bone, sausage, beef and chicken with escarole and cheese like mozzarella and parmesan. The meat is slowly simmered for hours then shredded and added back into the soup, making for a hearty main dish…. 

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Almost Famous: Ikea’s Swedish Meatballs

I never met a meatball I didn’t like! Swedish included. These tender, baked Swedish meatballs with creamy gravy could be the poster child for comfort food!

The lingonberry jam that is traditionally served alongside is a wonderful complement to the mild seasonings of allspice and Worcestershire found in the meatballs. If you can’t find lingonberry jam, cranberry sauce makes a suitable substitute…. 

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Meatballs in Spicy Red Pepper Sauce with Cannellini Beans

Mini-sized meatballs in a zesty, vibrant red pepper sauce with cannellini beans and whole-grain penne pasta. Because sometimes even I, pasta lover that I am, get tired of traditional red sauce. This is a nice variation from the norm. And every bit as comforting!… 

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Mini Meatball and Ravioli Soup

Mini Meatball and Ravioli Soup

Everything about this soup is mini, except the flavor! Packed with mini meatballs and bite-size cheese ravioli that are the perfect size for your soup spoon, it’s brimming with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and fresh spinach. It’s stick-to-your ribs, hearty, warming and filling. A soup that eats like a meal.

The soup comes together fairly quickly and doesn’t take long to cook. The meatballs have the most delicious flavor, tender but sturdy enough to hold up to the soup and cooked to the point where they want to fall apart but don’t. The next time you’re craving meatballs and pasta maybe you’ll consider something a little different, a change from the norm that’s every bit as delicious and satisfying.

Mini Meatball and Ravioli Soup

Mini Meatball and Ravioli Soup
(by Reeni)
Soup:
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 roasted red pepper or green bell pepper, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
sea salt and fresh black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth (4 + 1/2 cups)
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
14 ounces bite size cheese ravioli
3 cups fresh Spinach leaves, rough chopped
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated for serving
Meatballs:
1 + 1/4 pound ground beef or turkey
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1. In a large soup pot saute the onion and bell pepper in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil until soft and tender, over medium low heat seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, saute until fragrant. Add the bay leaf, Italian seasoning, thyme, chicken broth, tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Bring slowly up to a simmer. In the meantime make the meatballs.

2. Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Form into 1-inch meatballs.

3. Once the soup is boiling carefully drop the meatballs into the pot. Bring back up to a slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Taste and season again with salt and pepper or Italian seasoning if needed.

4. Cook ravioli separately according to package directions. Add spinach to soup and cook for 10 minutes or until spinach is wilted. You can mix the ravioli into the soup or serve by spooning a few ravioli into each bowl and spooning soup over top. Remove bay leaf before serving with plenty of grated cheese.


Mini Meatball and Ravioli Soup

I’m sending this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammie) Sundays!

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Sweet and Spicy Meatballs with Couscous

  
One of the most intense cravings I’ve ever experienced was for these very meatballs! My taste buds cried out for a spice drenched meatball in a sweet sauce rife with dried fruit like cranberries and cherries. The craving was so specific that I could taste them. Being they didn’t even exist yet the job of conjuring up the recipe was made much easier. All I had to do was match up the right spices in a combination that would give me the result I was looking for.

That meant emptying out my spice cabinet into the pot! And using some spices I haven’t used in a seriously long time. So, I just went for it: cinnamon, allspice, coriander, chile powder, smoked paprika, fennel seeds and a touch of cayenne all went into the mix at one point or another. In the midst of this I realized what a spice rut I’m in, using mostly the same few spices over and over for months on end. Right then and there I decided to be more adventurous and experimental in my spice use. And with herbs too. It is my namesake, after all. There it is; my one and only resolution for the new year! How fitting that it has everything to do with cooking.

Drenched in spices, the meatballs are soft, tender orbs of sweet and savory goodness. Floating around in the exotic sauce are meaty little hunks of cranberries, cherries and golden raisins. They leak their rich and fruity sweetness into the sauce and in return absorb some of the characteristics of the meat. Whole-grain couscous serves it’s purpose well as a bed for the meatballs and as a vehicle for soaking up the rich and deeply flavored sauce. Lucky for me, there were leftovers! The experience of eating them a second time was even more rewarding then the first, as the flavors developed further over time.

The doors were blown right off my craving and every single cell of my spice-craving self was satisfied!

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs w/ Couscous
(by Reeni)
meatballs:
1 + 1/4 pound ground beef or turkey
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
sauce:
1 small onion, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup raisins, chopped (I used golden)
1 + 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 + 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon allspice
a dash or two of cayenne pepper
1 can (14 ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can (14 ounce) beef broth
salt and pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream (regular or light) or half and half
whole wheat couscous, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl using a fork combine all the meatball ingredients. Form into meatballs and place on a baking sheet with side or a large roasting pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile in a large, deep sided skillet saute the onion in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat until tender. Add garlic, cherries, cranberries, raisins and all of the spices; season well with salt and pepper; if pan is dry add another tablespoon or two of olive oil. Mix the fruit and spices into the onion and slowly saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Stir in beef broth and juice from the tomatoes. Chop the remaining tomatoes into a small dice and add them to the sauce. Add meatballs and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Taste and re-season halfway through.

3. Stir in heavy cream and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Meanwhile cook the couscous according to package directions. Serve immediately over whole-grain couscous.

Serves 5

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs with whole-grain Couscous

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Spaghetti Squash and Mini Meatball Soup with Roasted Red Peppers

Spaghetti Squash and Mini Meatball Soup

No matter how often I cook spaghetti squash it never fails to impress me. Pulling my fork through the golden sunshine colored flesh and watching it turn into spaghetti strands makes me feel like I can do anything. It’s nothing short of a magic trick to split open a squash and find spaghetti inside! Who knew you could grow spaghetti on a vine? It’s one of natures miracles. One I’m very grateful for because I could eat it every day of my life and never grow tired of it.

There is one way I don’t like it and that’s when it’s treated like traditional spaghetti and smothered in tomato sauce. Because the resemblance to spaghetti is about as far as it goes. It differs in texture and flavor. While some spaghetti squash are very bland you may find others have a hint of lemon flavor to them. Depending on how well done their cooked, the strands can have a bit of crispness that pops between your teeth, not at all like the soft, chewiness of spaghetti.

The broth is drenched with the flavor of aromatics including onion, garlic, roasted red and green bell peppers. It is the perfect backdrop for the tender little orbs of mini meatball deliciousness and the squash spaghetti which makes up the bulk of the soup by adding great body and texture. My father was quite impressed with the entire concept and summed things up best when he asked “Who else do you know that is making spaghetti squash and meatball soup?” A quick Google search turned up nothing, making it a truly unique original that I hope I’ve inspired you to try!

Spaghetti Squash and Mini Meatball Soup

Spaghetti Squash and Mini Meatball Soup
(by Reeni)
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin in 1/2-inch long pieces
olive oil, for sauteing
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 roasted red pepper, sliced thin in 1/2-inch long pieces
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
sea or kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 + 1/4 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken broth
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated, for serving

1. Roast the spaghetti squash on 400 degrees F. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and place it face down in a baking pan. Add about an inch of water to the pan. A medium-sized spaghetti squash will take 35 – 40 minutes. It will be fork-tender when done and the skin will ‘wrinkle’ up.

2. In a large soup pot or sauce pan saute onion and green pepper in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat until onion is translucent and pepper is tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add roasted red pepper, thyme and the bay leaf. Season well with salt and pepper and continue sauteing for 3-4 minutes.

3. Meanwhile make the meatballs. In a large bowl using a fork combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, Worcestershire, Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Form them into tiny meatballs about 1-inch in size and place on a plate.

4. Turn the squash into spaghetti by using a fork to pull the strands apart. Add to the pot along with the chicken broth. Bring to a slow boil then carefully add the meatballs one by one. Season with additional salt and pepper. Simmer slowly for 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Taste and season again if needed. Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

Spaghetti Squash and Mini Meatball Soup

Don’t forget to link up your Thanksgiving side dishes for the Showdown!

I’m sending this to my lovely friend Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays round-up!

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Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

 Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

A bold and sassy soup recipe for vermicelli noodles with meatballs and chile peppers. Whole chile peppers simmer away in a freshly pureed tomato broth to give this soup outrageous flavor. The vermicelli is also cooked right in this spicy sauce where it imbues itself right into the noodle. The meatballs are simply seasoned and simmered separately in water which later gets mixed into the tomato broth to finish the soup.

You might think the meatballs would be the star of the show here. But truly the chile peppers fill that role. Without them this soup is nothing. The chile peppers are cooked whole with the stems left on so the seeds don’t escape to make it unbearably hot. For some. Serve up a pepper to anyone who wants to make their soup hotter. They can break open the pepper and stir the seeds right in. It’s all about control. 

Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs
 

If in fact you have leftovers, the noodles will slurp up every bit of the liquid. But it’s ok. This is so insanely good I can promise you won’t care. You can get two meals out of it, the first will be a soup, the second will be spaghetti and meatballs. Tex-Mex style.

I admit I didn’t like the ‘looks’ of this once it was finished. And I was concerned about the meatballs being bland. I had taken liberties with the very simply seasoned recipe adding spices to it like oregano and chile powder. But I was very surprised. I can’t convey how good this is. The sauce is everything, adding to the meatball exactly what it needs. If you like fiery hot foods you will love this. It packs an explosion of flavor that’s spicy, hearty, warming and just indescribably delicious.

Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs: Fideos con Albondigas
(adapted from The Los Barrios Family Cookbook)

Meatballs:
1 + 1/2 pounds ground beef (80-85%) or turkey
1/2 cup white rice, cooked
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed between fingers
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Vermicelli:
4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 small onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4-6 fresh chile peppers with stems attached, Serranos are recommended
12 ounces vermicelli, broken into 1-2 inch pieces
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 teaspoons Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped, optional, for serving

1. Fill a large soup or stock pot with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine all the meatball ingredients. Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Add carefully to the boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a separate large soup pot or sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, green peppers and the whole chile peppers. Saute until onion is translucent. Add the vermicelli. Toss the vermicelli around for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

4. Add tomatoes, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin and pepper to a blender along with a cup or two of the meatball broth. Use a towel to hold top of blender down and puree until smooth. Add to the vermicelli and put back on medium-low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until vermicelli are cooked through, stirring often and adding meatball broth as needed. Taste broth and season with salt if desired.

5. Carefully add meatballs and their broth to the vermicelli mixture, stirring well. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro and with warm corn tortillas or thick, crusty bread.

*I used green cayenne peppers.

Printable Recipe

Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

I‘m sending this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper (Soup, Salad or Sammie) Sundays Round-up!

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Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini
  
A hearty recipe for meatballs stuffed with little orbs of mozzarella and served in a rich tomato sauce with bucatini pasta noodles. Bucatini are essentially thick spaghetti with a unique twist that comes from having a hole down the middle like a tube. They’re plump and hefty and hold up well to these colossal meatballs.

The meatballs are seasoned with onion, garlic, oregano, parsley and Parmesan cheese, then each one is formed and stuffed with a fresh basil leaf and a baby ball of fresh mozzarella called bocconcini. They get briefly baked and then simmered in a gorgeous tomato sauce. The sauce infuses into the meatballs and the meatballs lend some of their flavor to the sauce. A win-win. Nothing spells home to me more than the smell of simmering sauce bubbling away on the stove. It’s the best kind of comfort I know.

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini

The meatballs have incredible flavor, moist and tender, they just about melt in your mouth with the molten, stringy middles that slowly ooze when you cut into them. They are perfectly matched with the soft, fat chewy noodles dripping with the fresh tasting, rosy red sauce. And just might be what makes my world go around.

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and Bucatini

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and Bucatini
(by Reeni) (Makes about 25 meatballs depending on size)

Meatballs:
1 + 1/2 pound ground beef or ground pork/beef/veal mix 80-85% lean
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons oregano
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 pound bocconcini* or fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2-inch cubes
fresh basil leaves
Sauce:
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Olive oil, for sauteing
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 (28 ounce) cans/boxes crushed or strained tomatoes (like Tuttorosso or Pomi)
a pinch or two of sugar
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 pound of bucatini/perciatelli or spaghetti

1. In a large mixing bowl use a fork to combine all the meatball ingredients except mozzarella and basil.

2. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pat a small hunk of meat flat in the palm of your hand, place a basil leaf in the middle and a mozzarella ball. Form the meat evenly around it, pat it together well and roll it in the palm of your hand. Place on baking sheet and repeat until all the meat is used. Bake for 10 minutes.

3. In an extra large sauce pan over medium-low heat saute the onion and bell pepper in plenty of olive oil until soft and tender. Add garlic, Italian seasoning and bay leaves. Saute until garlic is fragrant. Add tomato paste, stir into onion mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar and a 1/2 tomato paste can full of water. Carefully add meatballs. Bring to a simmer and simmer slowly for 35-45 minutes. Taste during and at the end seasoning the sauce as needed with additional herbs, salt and pepper. Add basil at the end and remove from heat. Serve with bucatini or spaghetti, Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian or garlic bread.

*Can be found on the olive bar in your market or with the specialty cheeses in the Italian section.

**Bucatini are also called perciatelli. I found them under the Ronzoni brand.

Printable Recipe

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini

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