Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hearty Meatball and Veggie Soup

Living by myself and loathing kitchen cleanup as I do, I'm always a fan of a one-pot meal. This checks all the right nutritional boxes, too: protein, healthy carbs, natural fat and lots of veggies. It takes about an hour total and serves four generously. 

With the butternut squash, it hits the ratios for Always Hungry Phase 2. Without them, it's almost exactly phase 1, and leaves you a little room for a little sour cream or parmesan.

For the meatballs, use 1 lb of 85/15 ground beef, 1 egg (beaten before adding), 1 Tbsp chickpea flour, 1/2 tsp each of granulated garlic, salt and oregano, and 1 small diced shallot (about 1-2 Tbsps).

Feel free to play with these ingredients. Use turkey or veggie meatballs if you like, or all-purpose flour, or fresh garlic.  

To form even-sized meatballs you can use a scoop, but I find it kind of a pain to clean mine well so I'd rather not use it for raw meat. Instead, I divide the meat into four parts and then divide each of those parts into four meatballs. Next time I think I'll make them even smaller.

Next, you gotta brown the meatballs to make a nice little crust to keep the flavor in them in the soup. Put a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and brown them on as many sides as you have patience for! I usually only do two or three "sides". Remove them from the pan and set aside.

I saved a little time by sauteeing the meatballs in this pan and the onions in the soup pot, then sauteeing the other veg in the yummy bits from sauteeing the meat. 

Usually I do it all in one pot, layer by layer. 

Saute one medium onion, diced, in 2 tsp olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot.
Saute 2 cups of chopped vegetables in the other pan, or add to the onions if using one pot. Leave in the yummy bits from the meatballs either way. I started the mushrooms before the zucchini to get them a little more brown.
Add 1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes to the onions and stir in the other vegetables if they're separate. Fill the can halfway with water and put the water in the pot. Bring to a simmer for about five minutes.

If you have a piece of Parmesan in the fridge, cut the rind off and toss it in with the tomatoes. It'll add lovely flavor to the soup.
Rinse and drain one can of chickpeas or your favorite beans (about 1 2/3 cups). Add to the veggies. Next, add 5 cups of chicken or veggie broth, homemade or low-sodium from the store. 4 cups plus one more cup of water would also work, especially if you just want to buy one box of broth.

Bring the soup to a boil and then add the meatballs and 1 cup cooked diced butternut squash (if adding raw, cook until soft with the other veggies). Simmer for 5-10 more minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve by itself or with a little parmesan sprinkled on top.  If you make 16 meatballs, put 4 in each serving.

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