Soup and photo by Sarah Phillips © Sarah Phillips 

There's nothing more delicious for dinner than a steaming bowl of homemade soup. With this particular recipe, I often throw in any vegetables I have on hand, including cauliflower and broccoli, zucchini and squash. You can also add in more beans, too, or make the soup without meat. Most of the time, I skip making the meatballs and just brown the hamburger meat itself, chopping it into large pieces as it cooks, eliminating the need for the bread crumbs and large egg. When the is meat done and lightly browned, remove it from the pan and drain on paper towels, and then, proceed with Step #3. You can also add pasta to the recipe - after cooking the meatballs in the soup, in Step #6, add 1/2 cup or so dried pasta, such as Penne, to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 20 minutes or so. When pasta is tender, the soup is done and ready to serve. I have also added fresh chopped spinach, too, five minutes to the hot soup before is ready to be served. This recipe makes enough meals to serve 4 at two or more sittings. The soup improves in flavor each day. Serve with freshly baked bread.
Bread suggestions: Fougasse Bread TutorialParmesan, Bacon and Walnut Topped Whole Wheat Focaccia or even Make Ahead Dinner Rolls. Thick slices of freshly baked Classic White Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, is also superb with this meal!

INGREDIENTS
1 pound lean ground beef, pork and veal combined or just lean beef, which is what I use. Ground turkey meat works well, too!
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs; I like to use seasoned crumbs
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste; I like to use Kosher salt and ground white pepper instead of black in my cooking recipes - to me, it lends a wonderful peppery flavor.
 
1 pound lean ground beef, pork and veal combined or just lean beef, which is what I use. Ground turkey meat works well, too!
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs; I like to use seasoned crumbs
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste; I like to use Kosher salt and ground white pepper instead of black in my cooking recipes - to me, it lends a wonderful peppery flavor.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more, if needed

5 shallots, more or less or 1 medium onion, chopped; I love the fine flavor that shallots give to recipes
1 or more cloves garlic, finely chopped, optional

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large boiling potato, peeled and 1/2-inch-diced; I like to use Yukon Gold Potatoes for more flavor
1 or 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried

1 can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes with basil; or 1 can (about 28-ounces) crushed tomatoes and add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 cups water, or more if needed; the soup should be thick and hearty, almost like a stew, so I only add the minimal amount of water to the recipe
1 can red kidney beans, do not drain; the liquid from the beans lends flavor to the recipe and also helps thicken the stock
1 can garbonzo beans, do not drain; the liquid from the beans lends flavor to the recipe and also helps thicken the stock
1/4 pound green beans, ends removed and cut in 1/2; or use frozen. Simply add to the soup
1 cup fresh or frozen peas; I have also used canned peas. Simply add with their liquid.
Chopped vegetable of choice, add in two or more, such as 1 cup fresh spinach, choopped; add last to the soup so it wilts, and then serve soup. Sliced zucchini, corn and/or chopped celery are also delicious

1 large piece of Parmesan cheese rind, optional; left-over rinds lend a wonderful flavor to soup and stews. I save all of mine in the refrigerator for future use.

1 teaspoon kosher salt or table salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper or to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan Reggio or Pecorino Romano cheese, or more as needed, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a large bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, egg, and salt and pepper, to taste, and mix well. Roll the mixture into small balls, no more than 3/4-inch in diameter.

2. In a deep soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches of 6 or 7 or no more than half at a time, turning frequently until they are browned all over. Remove meatballs from the pot and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Set aside until needed.

3. Add the shallots and garlic to the pot and a bit more olive oil, if needed. Scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon while stirring.

4. Add the carrots and potatoes and bay leaf to the pot, and a bit more olive oil, if needed. Season with salt and pepper and saute over medium heat for another 5 minutes.

5. Pour the canned tomatoes and water into the soup pot and add the beans, green beans and peas and the parmesan rind.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and then bring the soup just to a boil; you do not want to overcook or overheat the tomatoes in the soup. Lower the heat and let simmer for an hour or more, taking care to add more water, if needed.

6. Add the meatballs. Cover and simmer 10 to 20 minutes minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve hot with an ample amount of Parmesan Cheese and freshly baked bread. (Do not eat the Parmesan Cheese rind, but leave it in the main soup pot and then, toss it when done!)


STORAGE
The soup stores well, covered in the fridge, well-covered for about 3 to 5 days. When reheating, simmer under medium-low heat and add more water, if necessary. The soup freezes well for a month or more in an airtight container.

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