Monica’s mini meatball minestrone. Go ahead, I know you want to: Say it five times fast.
But really, this is serious business: You see, if you haven’t decided what to make for Christmas Eve dinner yet, then I’m pretty sure this post was written especially for you.
You see, I started obsessing about this soup weeks ago. I pondered the hearty minestrone base (minestrone is like one of my favorite things in the world). Then I couldn’t quit thinking about meatballs. Little…itty, bitty, meatballs.
You see, I just had this nagging feeling that someone out there is trying to decide what to make for dinner on Christmas Eve. (I do that pretty much every year.) And I knew I wouldn’t rest until I nailed this recipe and shared it with you.
(Of course–this recipe would be great for Christmas — or any other day — too, but I always think of Christmas Eve as a busy one–with church and parties and so on. Soup is just perfect for that.)
Well now that I created this delicious-yet-simple, holiday soup recipe, I am so happy. I think you’re going to love it, and I’ll definitely sleep better at night now knowing that
millions, thousands, my family if no one else, will have a wonderful meal on Christmas Eve.
Side note on teenagers and meatballs: In my opinion, meatballs are about the very best thing to make if you have teenage boys in the house. But you can’t just make one batch; you should always make three batches. One entire batch will be eaten literally as you pull them out of the oven. (I’m also guilty there.) These are like the best pop-in-your-mouth, protein-packed, salty snacks a teenage boy or stressed out mom can imagine. (Side-note to the side note: A generous sprinkling of salt and pepper is the key to great meatballs.) Anyways, obviously you use the second batch for the soup. Then the third batch? Either you can toss them on some spaghetti a day or two later, OR…Freeze them in a ziplock bag! You will thank your own sweet self on some busy day when you remember that those delicious meatballs are ready and waiting in the freezer.
I know, sometimes I think I might be a genius.
(Final) side note: You CAN buy frozen meatballs. In fact, as part of the experimenting/recipe prep for this soup I bought frozen turkey meatballs at Costco, and they were actually quite good. But they were large, and honestly, they just weren’t as good as homemade. So bottom line: in a pinch, it’s ok to use store-bought frozen meatballs. (But only in a pinch. K?)
And yes we’re officially done with the side-notes now, I promise.
I’ll leave you with the printable recipe now and let you get back to the holidays. 🙂
I hope you’ll share this with your friends using the social media buttons on this page. You never know if someone else is trying to decide what to make for their holiday meals… #thestruggleisreal. So spread the love and share the recipe!
Also: if you decide to make this for a holiday meal, please let me know. It will make me oh-so-happy. Clearly.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Monica's Mini Meatball Minestrone
- For meatballs:
- 20 oz 1.3 lb ground beef or turkey
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs itallian seasoned if you like
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- For Soup:
- 32 oz chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 cup carrots diced
- 1/2- 1 cup zucchini diced
- 1/2 cup celery diced
- 2-3 minced garlic cloves I used minced garlic from a jar-
- 2 cans great northern beans kidney or garbanzo or any combination of beans would be great too.
- 1-2 cans diced tomatoes 14.5 oz. cans(depends on how tomato-y you like it. ;))
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 2 tbsp. itallian seasonings or your choice of seasonings. (or your choice of seasonings.
- 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
- 1-2 cups fresh kale or spinach chopped.
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl combine ground meat, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, garlic, salt and cheese. Combine well (use hands to combine best.) Roll into small meatballs (the smaller the better!) and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, turning them to cover well.
Bake for 10-12 minutes checking for them to be browned.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and state until soft and fragrant. Add carrots and celery and continue to salute for about fifteen minutes.
Add the broth, canned tomatoes, beans, and seasonings, and cook over low-medium heat for 30-45 minutes. Add zucchini and meatballs and simmer about 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Add spinach or kale for just the last five minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and a piece of crusty bread!
PS About meatballs (see, I promised no more side-notes but I just had to add…) I shared a recipe for some really wonderful, nutrition-packed meatballs a while back. They had quinoa and super-chopped veggies in them. If that sounds good to you, check out the recipe HERE.
PPS More good things to make for teenage boys? A breakfast my boys are crazy about is my baked crunchy french toast. And this thai coconut curry is (still) their all-time favorite dinner. (and still super easy to make!) 🙂 Enjoy!