Chicken Meatballs with Orecchiette in Tomato Soup

It rained here this morning and I was craving meatballs, no it was not raining meatballs, although that wouldn’t have been a bad thing.  We are pretty tired of the rain here so this morning when I woke up to the  sound of rain I thought today I will make soup with meatballs because this will probably be the last of the hot soup weather.  I’m ready for warm weather and fresh garden tomatoes in my soups and salads.  A little bit of sun and I know the veggies in my  garden are going to take off.  There are some interesting beans flowering on the hill behind my house, I took pictures of the flowers and will check back next week to see if I have any beans.

Today it’s meatballs in my soup and soon (hopefully) it will be beans.

This hearty chicken meatball tomato soup with orecchiette pasta is easy to make and a true comfort food.  I adapted a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Light & Healthy 2011 cookbook.  I kept it healthy but I had to change a few things to both spice things up and remove the celery that  my husband Scott will not eat, even if he can’t see it, he has a celery radar and he can pick it out immediately.  So, if I want him to eat soup and I do, I have to substitute leeks or just leave celery out.  I also spiced up the tomato soup with crushed pepper and fire roasted tomatoes.  If you like your tomato soup less spicy try the original recipe but you’ll have to buy the book to get that recipe.  I also added more herbs and veggies to the soup before I pureed the whole thing.  Then all you do is add the raw meatballs and pasta to the simmering thick tomato soup for about 20 minutes until everything is cooked through.  How easy is that?

Ingredients and Directions for Chicken Meatballs with Orecchiette in Tomato Soup

1 pound ground dark meat chicken, or with half ground light and dark meat
6 tablespoons fresh pesto
6 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, minced
2 small carrots, minced
1 small leek, white part only, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 cups of chicken stock
1- 28 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon
1 bay leaf
1 large pinch crushed red pepper
1-2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
2/3 cup dry orecchiette pasta
Parmesan cheese, shredded for sprinkling on top
Parsley, finely chopped for sprinkling on top

In a large bowl mix together the ground chicken, pesto, bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, a pinch of crushed red pepper and a few grinds of black pepper.  Scoop out the meatballs using a small ice cream scoop and form into balls.  I made 15 meatballs.  Refrigerate on a baking sheet until ready to put in soup.

In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil and add the onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Stir occasionally until the veggies start to soften.  Add the red wine to the hot pan and simmer until reduced by at least half then add the tomatoes and chicken stock.  Sprinkle with dried Italian herbs if you like.  I started with 3 cups of chicken stock and added the other cup after I blended the soup to thin it out.  Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are soft.  Blend the soup in two batches in a blender.  Make sure you do not fill the blender with too much hot soup because it could splash up and burn you, ouch!  Put the blended soup back in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.  Place the meatballs in the simmering soup with the orecchiette pasta.
Continue to simmer and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the pasta in al dente.  Check the seasoning, I had to add more sea salt.  Serve in a bowl with grated Parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley.

Serves 6


  1. Patty, doesn't it seem like this winter has just been too long? I woke up this morning disappointed because it was so gloomy all day. Meanwhile, my husband was on the coast and he said it was just bright and sunny. Lucky bum.

    Speaking of husbands, mine is the total opposite of yours. Mine LOVES celery. He likes me to add it on everything and believe me, I really like it, too, but it doesn't go with everything at all. So funny!

    This soup was perfect for today. We had leftovers but I would have been very happy to have some of this instead. :-)

  2. This looks comforting especially with the shreds of parmesan on top of the sauce!

  3. Fantastic soup recipe.It looks delicious! I love making things with turkey and chicken meatballs. My husband hates celery as well so I am always adjusting recipes accordingly. And as for at flowered plate liner under the soup. I was floored to see it. I have a set of the same I bought in Vallauris, France. I just have to ask where you found yours?

  4. Mmm, I would turn my umbrella upside-down to catch this yummy soup! Too funny about Scott's celery radar, too!

  5. That plate is just gorgeous, Patty! And the soup looks pretty fantastic too — it's been a little rainy here too lately so this would be the perfect pick-me-up!

  6. Thanks for your answer! I just knew you got them in France. It's on my list to pick up more pieces next time I'm there. I love mine as well. You have excellent taste :-)

  7. I'm tired of rain too! Well, I can't complain much coz I live in a rainy city but really I'm tired of it! I'm so glad that you mixed dark chicken meat with white meat! That's my kind of meatballs. I can feel the comfort that will keep me happy and warm on this crazy weather.

  8. Oh Patty, chicken meatballs sound and look delicious, specially in the tomato soup…what a great meal. Hope you have a great week ahead :-)

  9. This looks so wonderful and fresh

  10. I'm with you on the final days for hearty comfort food, it got as cold as it would this winter (about 50's!) and so when I get cravings, I just make what I want, can't wait for cold weather!

    I LOVE your meatball soup! Looks like a hearty stew! And I love chicken meatballs too, lightens it all up while still remaining satisfying. Orchiette (little ears!) is a perfect pasta for this dish, spoon sized and easy to eat. Well done girl!

    Head over to my blog to drool of the last of Southern Florida's tomatoes for the season! They were so pretty, even I managed to make them look good in a photo! HA!

  11. This soup sounds wonderful! It's still quite cold here and its supposed to rain all week. I think I'll warm myself up with a bowl!

    I love the pictures of your plants. It'll be at least a month till anything starts growing here, till then I'll just have to live through your pictures!

  12. Your chicken meatball soup looks splendid! I could have finished the whole bowl!
    Love your plants…well, you now, I am hopeless in gardening. ;-(

  13. My grandmother used to make chicken meatballs in her chicken soup, this really reminds me of it, sounds wonderful in the tomato soup, I definitely need to try it!

  14. Patty, Patty, Patty… I WANT those meatballs. :)

  15. I could only wonder…does your Hubby feel the same way about fennel bulbs? I would certainly imagine it paired perfectly with your incredibly appetizing recipe.

    Love the garden photos Patty. We are quite a ways from seeing a sprout yet…sigh…patience is not my virtue…well maybe sometimes when it's really worth it ;o)

    Ciao for now and have a great weekend ahead.

  16. What a beautiful dish, Patty! Your timing on this post is uncanny, as I've been craving meatballs lately (due to a Bobby Flay episode I recently watched on “America's Next Great Restaurant”). I luv tomato soups and this looks like something I definitely need to try.

    Aren't tomatoes a kitchen's staple? Just love 'em! =)

  17. I'll take meatballs in soup too, Italian Wedding is a favorite, well, anything with meat I guess… but you know that already…. funny looking plants, will be interesting to see the beans, plants there sure don't look like ours…. have a great weekend…

  18. Such great flavors you have going on here,gorgeous dish and my boys would love it! I am so excited about your beans coming through,so beautiful:)

  19. Wow Patty, this is definitely not your average everyday meatball dish. This is like the queen of all meatball dishes. Loved that these are made of chicken instead of beef or pork too. Oh, and I'm like your husband, I can sniff out celery even if I can't see it. Although I'd still eat it, but won't if I don't have to. Your substitution of leeks is a great choice. Another lovely dish, dear friend. By the way, love the plate and bowl combo you've used her – simply beautiful!

  20. Orecchieti is one of my favorite pastas, precisely because the sauce is “trapped” in its shape!! I love that!! I miss my garden..;well, one can't have everthing in life!!
    I thought of you last Sunday! I re-took my golf after two years!! I don't know if it was “false beginner's ” luck, but my comeback was quite honorable ;D

  21. This is an amazing looking dish Patty. Love love tomato soup, really love anything tomato! Beautiful photos as always.

  22. Patty, I just tried the recipe tonight. It turned out great! The meatballs were delicious. I never would have thought about putting pesto in them. And, the blender is my new best friend. So that is how you make such a thick and healthy soup. Whoever heard of thick tomato soup without cream, or dairy of any sort? I substituted farro for the oricchette, and it turned out so hearty. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

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