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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 48 : Tortellini and Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 Tbs water
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tea salt
1/8 tea pepper

32 ou beef broth
1 can Cannellini Bean, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian style, undrained
1 can stewed tomatoes, Italian style, undrained
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 Tbs. Italian seasoning
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 bag fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs and roll into bite sized balls.  Add broth, beans, tomatoes, onion, Italian seasoning and raw meatballs to Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW about 6-8 hours.  About 30 minutes prior to serving, add tortellini, spinach, salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Let's start by talking about the meatballs.  The original recipe I found for this soup called for a bag of frozen meatballs.  Now, if you want to use those, I will not judge you.  I have used them before and in a quick pinch, they work great.  However, I am partial to homemade meatballs.  I have been rolling meatballs since before I could speak and even have grown up with the nickname "Meatball", given to me by my grandfather, so I know a bit about them!  If I was to provide the family recipe, I might be disowned, so I found this simple recipe online and think it is pretty tasty.  It also doesn't have the Italian seasonings in it, so they are pretty versatile if you want to use them for a different recipe.  A few tips for meatball success.  Patience is the key.  Know when you start making them that you are in for a long haul.  Good meatballs take time.  Take your time rolling them.  You want meatballs that are all the same size.  Towards the end of your rolling efforts, it is very easy to lose focus and make the meatballs bigger in an effort to finish faster.  Also make sure to apply enough pressure while you roll to make sure the meatballs are packed tight.  If they aren't rolled tight enough they will fall apart while cooking.  Never cook your meatballs in the oven.  They may dry out.  It takes a little longer, but drop the raw meatballs in your sauce, or in this case, soup and let them cook that way.  Next, leave the garlic out.  Garlic in the meat becomes a little too overpowering.  There are plenty of other seasonings, including garlic, in the sauce/soup that will flavor the meatballs as they cook.

The rest of this recipe is pretty self explanatory!  After stirring in the tortellini, add the bag of spinach and let it just sit on top for a little bit.  Stir before serving.  The recipe I found did not call for spinach, but I thought it sounded like a good addition to this soup, so, feel free to leave it out if you don't want it.  I used the frozen tortellini, but I'm sure you can use fresh as well.  Probably just won't need as much time to cook them at the end.  I suppose you could also leave the meatballs out and use meat and cheese ravioli, but that takes away the fun of making meatballs!  I am a bean lover, so I think next time I make this (and there will definitely be a next time) I will be adding another can of the Cannellini beans.  This is a warm, hearty meal in a bowl that is sure to be a new favorite in your kitchen!  (I know it is now one of my favorites!!)

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