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.
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.