Monday, December 29, 2014

Turn of the Year Goodness - Tortellini Soup with Meatballs Rerun

Good "Monday after Christmas" everyone!

I always feel like I'm in limbo during the week between Christmas and New Year's. We're winding down the last year and looking forward to the next.

Meanwhile, the winter weather is just gathering steam. We're expecting sub-zero temperatures through the next week after a Sunday evening/Monday snow storm. So it's definitely time for a soup recipe!

I was looking through my posts from last year, and this one from last February is one of my favorites. I love this soup.

So pull up a bowl, grab a baguette or two, and warm up with some Tortellini Soup with Meatballs....

My daughter's television watching consists of a couple hours of Food Network a week (and an hour of Psych, but we won't mention that - they're on their last season and she's crushed). She doesn't have time for any more than that, between working two jobs and playing in two symphonies! But she adds to her Food Network addiction by buying their magazine.

I love this addiction - after all, I get to read the magazine, too! And they always have such fabulous recipes.

Their version of this recipe, Meatball-Tortellini Soup, was in the January issue. I tweaked it to please our family, so what you're getting is the amended version. (If you want to see the original, go here.)

So what's so great about this soup?

First of all, it's quick.
Second, it's easy.
Third, it's delicious!
Fourth...well, you'll have to wait until the end for that one.

So here's how you do it.

Start with one pound of quality ground beef.

You could also use ground turkey, but I like the texture of the beef in these meatballs. Especially when it's the last, the very last, pound of good South Dakota grass-fed ground beef from the "half-of-a-half" we purchased last March. And we only had this one because it was hiding in a corner of the freezer. I thought we had run out in November!

(I ordered some more on Saturday. Things are looking up!)

In a large bowl, beat 2 large eggs. Add in your ground beef (or turkey), 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 Tablespoons dried parsley, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix with your hands - just until it's all combined - and then form the mixture into 1-inch balls.

Wynter would NEVER consider stealing meatballs off the kitchen counter....

....this guy, on the other hand, wouldn't think twice. Do you see how innocent he seems? He's just waiting for someone to leave the room!

Oh, and a side note - notice the unfinished floor behind the dogs. We're still working on it!

Okay. You have your meatballs ready, so take a large pot (I use my 8 quart stock pot) and heat up a couple tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. I use refined coconut oil (I want the medium chain fatty acids in my food), or you can use olive oil. Add your meatballs - gently, because they're quite fragile at this stage - and cook until they're browned on all sides.

Take them out and let them drain on a clean paper towel. They aren't quite done cooking yet, so don't be concerned if the meat doesn't look done.

Notice how the meatballs are NOT all uniform and round.
They taste better that way, right?

While your meatballs are cooking, prepare some celery and carrots. 

You'll need 3 carrots and 3 stalks of celery. Dice them fine so they cook up quickly.

After you remove the meatballs from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil, and then add the celery and carrots. Keep the heat at medium-high.

Do you see all that brown stuff in the bottom of the pan? That's from the meat. That is what is going to give your soup the special savory goodness all chefs want in their soups!

Stir the veggies, and scrape up the brown crusties at the same time. Let them get all cozy, tasty and friendly. Stir some more, cook some more, until the veggies start to soften - about 5 minutes.

Now add 2 quarts chicken broth and 1 quart (4 cups) water.

This is 1 quart of broth - you'll need two of these.

When you add the liquid, be sure to scrape up the remaining crusties from the bottom of the pan. You want that rich goodness in your soup! (And it makes the pot easier to clean.)

Bring the soup to a boil, and once it's boiling, add the meatballs back in. Simmer for about 4 or 5 minutes to cook the meatballs thoroughly.

Next, add some refrigerated tortellini (1 9-ounce package), and cook until the tortellini rise to the surface of the broth.

For the last touch, add about 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach to the soup, and let simmer for another few minutes before serving.

The final step: salt to taste.

Serve with more Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Add some fresh bread and a salad, and you have a great winter-time supper :)

Oh, and the fourth great thing about this recipe? It's less than 500 calories per serving. How can you beat that?

Didn't we all love the peek at spring our GAL Julie gave us over the weekend? And don't we all have spring fever now?

But don't be fooled. It isn't spring here, yet! As I overheard a guy say on Saturday (in the middle of a snowstorm), "Get used to it, folks. It's February in South Dakota. It's still winter!"

We just had to laugh. Yup. It's still winter here :)

Here's the recipe all in one place:

Tortellini Soup with Meatballs 
(serves 8)

2 eggs
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 Tablespoons oil

3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, peeled and diced
2 quarts chicken broth
1 quart water

9-ounce package refrigerated cheese tortellini
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach
additional Parmesan cheese

Make meatballs: combine eggs (beaten), meat, cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Divide into 1-inch balls.

Cook in 2 Tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until all sides are browned.

Remove the meatballs, and add the diced carrots and celery, along with the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add meatballs. Cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

Add refrigerated tortellini and cook until tortellini floats.

Add spinach and cook for an additional few minutes.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.


  1. I am totally making this soup this week. I've forgotten how much I love this stuff, and now you've reminded me!!!! Thank you! This is our quiet week here, the calm after the storm and while it's still busy... I'm back to work today... we'll have no babies around this week unless our newest granddaughter gets born. So we'll see what the end of 2014 brings!

    I picked "my one word" for 2015: Discernment.

    I chose it because I need to pause and think more. Before I talk, before I act....

    I can only hope that it helps! :)

    1. There's nothing like quiet after a time of happy chaos, is there? Enjoy your work days, Ruthy!

      I'm planning to squeeze an hour here and an hour there. Deadlines loom, but I don't feel behind. Yet.

      I'm still waiting to find my one word for 2015. I like yours. Discernment can cover a lot of territory!

  2. I totally live on the Progresso Italian Meatball Soup and this is the real stuff. Thanks for the recipe.

    Hmm.One word. Must decide. Last year it was ONE.

    1. This IS the real stuff. Especially if you're blessed with Italian genes.

      Which I'm not.

      I pretend, though, when I'm making this recipe :)

  3. I remember this one because of the dog pictures. LOL Naughty and nice. I watched a cooking segment on TV and they made lentil 'meat'balls. Might have to try them in this soup.

    And since we're tossing around one word options I was thinking about warrior but feel more like hibernation would match my personality of late.

    1. I was getting ready to write this comment when I had to go stop Thatcher from chewing something.

      Talk about naughty! We haven't been able to do our usual walks because of the weather, and agility class has been canceled the last couple weeks, so the dog is going stir crazy!

      And to top it off, his new best friend (we have new neighbors, he has a new poodle playmate) has been visiting family in Oregon for the last two weeks.

      But we got snow last night, so he'll get to go out to help shovel the driveway. He loves chasing the snow while we shovel :)

  4. I gotta try this- making my way through a huge batch of minestrone and a failed but edible breakfast recipe. since I don't have enough freezer containers I will likely be eating on this a few days! eating bbq for lunch todaywith friends so I get a little bit of a break

  5. Yum! I never did try this. I can't wait to make it when the weather gets cold again. (It's 60 right now.) Jan, I hope y'all stay warm!

    1. 60. 60? Hmmm. I think I remember double digits!

      Just kidding. Our weather goes up and down all winter long :)

      I'm making soup today. (High of 7° predicted.) Not this one - don't have all the ingredients. I'm thinking the Winter Root soup I shared a while ago.