Photo Courtesy of Judy Schweitzer
I’ve always loved Minestrone. The word is Italian and describes itself perfectly: “thick soup.” I like it as an appetizer when it’s the traditional lighter vegetable soup. If I want it for a full meal, I like to add little meat balls to it which makes it more hearty. So I created Meat Lovers Minestrone, made with ground chuck and all the vegetables contained in a traditional Minestrone. I also use Kosher salt, because it has less sodium per teaspoon than regular salt.
In my family we don’t wait for winter to eat soup, because it’s nutritional and so easy to make. My theory is if you have to cook, might as well make it something really nutritious! Chopping and cooking the meatballs are about all you need to do, the rest of the creation takes care of itself, just simmering, once you have it all together. I serve this soup with a warm, crusty Artisan bread. I follow the meal with a luscious dessert like my old-fashioned chocolate cake, or if I haven’t baked that day, if it’s summer, I may substitute some fresh fruit or melon to finish.
When I’m serving my family or a large group of people, I bring a steaming tureen of soup to the table and allow everyone to serve themselves. I use a bread basket with a warming stone to keep bread warm during the meal. My soup bowls are basic white, so that the colors of the soup show up well. Part of the enjoyable experience of eating are the ways we set the table, and the colors we see. Minestrone is a colorful soup with all the vegetables and beans and needs no other adornment. See various tureens and bowls at the bottom of this page.
Meat Lover’s Minestrone
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons ground oregano, divided
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic, divided
- 2 Tablespoons dried Basil, divided
- 1 can stewed tomatoes,WITH juice, chopped
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 & 1/2 cups diced onion
- 2 medium size zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters, then slice quarters crosswise into bite-size pieces.
- 3 carrots, sliced into coins
- 1 & 1/2 cups chopped celery
- 2 cans chicken broth
- 1 can kidney beans, un-drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans, un-drained
- 1 can cut green beans, un-drained
- 3 cups water (may need more before ready to eat, stir occasionally to test)
- 15 spaghetti strands, broken in 1-inch pieces OR 25 angel hair strands, broken in 1-inch pieces.
- Mix ground chuck with bread crumbs, egg, 1 Tbsp. oregano, 1 Tbsp. garlic, 1 Tbsp. Basil and the Kosher salt until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- With a melon baller or small meatball maker, take a small portion of meat, then roll in your hands into small bite-sized meat balls.
- Put olive oil into deep pot and heat over medium burner.
- Place small meat balls on platter or tinfoil as you make them, until all meat is used and oil is hot.
- With a large spoon, carefully place small meat balls into sizzling olive oil.
- Cook meatballs turning with slotted spoon until they show no pink. Do NOT drain oil, it will enhance the flavor of the other ingredients.
- Chop the stewed tomatoes into small pieces and put them AND juice in same pot with meat balls.
- Immediately pour in both cans of chicken broth, the tomato paste and 2 cups of water in same pot.
- Stir in remaining oregano, garlic and basil in same pot.
- Put onion, zucchini, celery and carrots into same pot, add water if necessary, cook on high until vegetables are tender.
- Carrots will take a bit longer than the other vegetables, so test for tenderness before continuing on to next step.
- Pour in undrained kidney beans, garbanzo beans and green beans, bring to boil.
- Add more water if necessary.
- Bring to boil, drop spaghetti pieces into boiling liquid. Boil for 10 minutes for spaghetti, 7 minutes for angel hair.
- Serve with crusty Artisan bread.
If you like serving up a tureen of good, hot, satisfying soup to your family, here are a few tureens and bowls you might like, available at Amazon.