♥ Italian Meatball Soup Rapido

Cold weather and a hearty soup go together like, well… cold weather and a hearty soup! The thermostat has dipped below freezing here and we even had a snow teaser yesterday. But, the snow didn’t even last the afternoon; dang it! Time was short as the dinner hour was looming and we were in the mood for soup and to try something new, too. So, I rooted around in the “pre-computer” recipe stash and found this oldie, just waiting patiently to be re-discovered.

I clipped this recipe years ago from the Spokesman Review newspaper, before I had the internet in my kitchen. I must have saved it because it sounded vaguely similar to this great soup–a meal in a pot–that my Aunt Mary Beth used to make. Granted, I love almost all soup (um, LOVE), but her meatball soup remains in my memory to this day.

My version of this soup no longer resembles the Spokesman’s recipe, aside from the fact that I have”veganized” the original recipe. How does a soup that calls itself ‘Italian’ not contain any spices, especially Italian spices, or tomatoes? Trust me, I corrected that omission straight away!

Because this is a quick soup, it calls for canned beans (and my addition of canned tomatoes). I try to avoid canned foods because of the endocrine disruptor chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) and because home-cooked beans just taste so much better! But, in a pinch, I will use Eden canned beans because Eden is the only company in the U.S. that does not line their steel cans with a BPA liner. According to Eden’s website, their enamel-lined canned tomato products are generally safer than some other brands.

J gave this recipe an enthusiastic two thumps up. We enjoyed the soup with a wonderful loaf of 100% Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil, straight from the oven. It’s a good thing (channeling Martha here) to have a bucket of this dough at the ready in the refrigerator.

Side note: if you aren’t already familiar with Healthy Bread In Five Minutes A Day, this is a must-have book for every kitchen and all cooking levels. I mean, no-knead dough for several loaves of artisan-type breads, sweet breads, rolls, pizza dough (you name it!) that is literally mixed together in five minutes and will keep several days in the refrigerator…it doesn’t get any better, or easier, than that!

♥     ♥     ♥

Italian Meatball Soup Rapido

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 cup chopped onion

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers

2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning

8 cups No Chicken or vegetable broth

2 6.3-ounce packages Yves Classic Veggie Meatballs

2 15-ounce cans Eden Organic Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well (or 3 to 3-1/2 cups cooked Cannellini beans)

2 14.5-ounce cans Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes with juice (or 3-1/2 cups juicy tomatoes, chopped and the juices reserved)

16 ounces fresh baby spinach or 8 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed

Non-dairy Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 5 to 6 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery and onion; sauté about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, red chili pepper flakes and the Italian Seasoning; cook an extra 2 to 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the broth. Cover and bring the soup to a gentle boil.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Yves meatballs and sauté until lightly browned. Turn off the heat.

When the soup is gently boiling, add the meatballs, the beans and the tomatoes with their juices. Stir gently and simmer about 10 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and simmer an extra 5 minutes, or until the spinach is thoroughly heated and a vibrant green.

Serve hot. Garnish with a sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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