This is a delicious rich soup that will need a longer cooking time then most soups and tastes even better the next day it's really a meal in itself, I serve it with garlic bread on the side --- to save some time prepare the meatballs up to a day ahead, the meatball mixture may be doubled if desired, if you don't use all the meatballs then freeze for another time and just drop them into the soup frozen -- 1/4 to 1/3 cup dry red wine may be added to the soup :)
- 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 -3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional or adjust to suit heat level)
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups chicken broth (can use beef broth)
- 4 cups tomato sauce (for a richer flavor use 2 cups each tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes)
- 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 (10 ounce) can green beans, drained
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach (rinsed over with cold water)
- 2 -3 medium zucchini, sliced thick (or coarsely chopped)
- cooked small shell pasta (use any amount desired, small shell pasta or macaroni will work fine)
- 1⁄3-1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese (more for sprinkling)
- salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1⁄2 lb extra lean ground beef (or use half beef and pork)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green onion, finely chopped (use white part only)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1⁄2 teaspoon seasoning salt or 1⁄2 teaspoon white salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- For the meatballs; in a bowl combine all ingredients until blended.
- Shape into 3/4-inch balls; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to add to the soup.
- In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add in garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add in onions, dried oregano and crushed chili flakes; saute for about 4 minutes, stirring.
- Add in celery, carrots and tomato paste; saute stirring for 2-3 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Add in chicken broth, tomato sauce, kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves and zucchini; return to a boil.
- Add in uncooked meatballs; bring to a simmer (do not stir for at least 20 minutes).
- Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours (after about 30 minutes of cooking season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste).
- Add in cooked pasta and 1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir to heat through (can add in more cheese if desired).
- Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.