Another family recipe passed down by my boyfriend’s mom. The recipe was originally featured in Sunset Magazine in the 1960’s and was passed along to me since it was one of Bill’s favorites when he was a kid. I love everything about soup for dinner, except when it’s 80 degrees out, which thank you Los Angeles– it’s mid March and it already feels like summer. Any who, this soup is good enough to eat even if it feels like death valley outside by back door. The plethora of fresh veggies combined with spinach stuffed meatballs (seriously, who can resist meatballs in soup??) will have you wishing winter was coming back in style. If you’re like me, just crank up the A/C throw on that blanket scarf and chow down with that big bowl of minestrone. You deserve it!
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
4 cans (14 1/2-oz. each) beef broth
1 can tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup pasta shells
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
With hands, squeeze as much moisture from spinach as possible. In large bowl combine spinach, beef, crumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Shape into 1-inch balls. Bake on oiled cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350: F. Save drippings and set meatballs aside to cool.
In a large pot over medium heat, using the drippings from meatballs, saute onions, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in broth, tomatoes (break up with a spoon) and their liquid, beans and their liquid, oregano and basil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Stir in pasta. Cover and simmer until pasta is cooked al dente, about 10 minutes. Place meatballs in soup to reheat thoroughly.
Serve with warm french bread.