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Minestrone with Spinach Meatballs

No recipe image available.Light-textured beef and spinach meatballs are the flavor starter for this busy-day minestrone. Whimsical bow-shaped or spiral pasta cooks right in the broth.

Recipe Ingredients:

Spinach Meatballs:
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
7 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes in their own juice
1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dry basil leaves, crumbled
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup dry farfalle pasta (bow ties) or rotini pasta (spirals)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for accompaniment (optional)

Cooking Directions:

  1. For Spinach Meatballs: Thoroughly mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Makes about 2 dozen.
  2. For Minestrone Heat oil in a 4 to 5-quart pan over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain excess drippings, if needed.
  3. Add onion to pan and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in broth, tomatoes, beans and their liquid, oregano and basil. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add carrots and celery. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  6. Stir in pasta and the meatballs; cover and simmer until pasta is al dente (firm to the bite).
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.