This takes a little advance preparation, but it is great to come home to after a long day. Pastina and acini di pepe pasta is very small pasta and can be added the last hour or so of the cooking time.
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1⁄4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
- 1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup boneless cooked chicken breast (baked or boiled and chopped into shreds)
- 1⁄2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup carrot, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup celery, finely chopped
- 2 cups escarole or 2 cups spinach, torn into small pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 cup pastina pasta or 1⁄4 cup acini di pepe pasta
- parmesan cheese, for serving
- Meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Form into very small balls (I get approximately 90 meatballs from 1 pound ground beef. I bake mine on a nonstick cookie sheet and turn them half-way through the cooking time).
- Bake about 10-15 minutes, until the meatballs have browned but are still soft (watch closely).
- Remove from oven and drain on paper towel, if necessary.
- Soup: Place all of the ingredients, except the pasta and escarole or spinach, into the crock pot with meatballs.
- Cook on low for 8 hours (Add pasta and escarole or spinach during the last hour of cooking and salt to taste, if necessary).
- Remove bay leaves.
- Top each serving with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
- Note: The meatballs must be prepared before being put into the crock pot (make them the night before and put them in the refrigerator, or even keep a batch in the freezer. I basically prepare as much as I can in advance so all I have to do is just put it all in the crock pot in the morning).