I was telling Amanda the other day that I was absolutely sure there exists a time suck in my kitchen. I just don’t know where it is and how to eradicate it. I get home from work five minutes after five (it’s nice to live so close to my office, I’ll be honest.), I hang up my coats and get started in the kitchen. Despite that, dinner often isn’t done until 7. It’s not like I’m making huge, elaborate things. It’s just that when I don’t do pre-prepping of ingredients on the weekends, dinner takes forever. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who can take a 30 minute meal and make it take 120 minutes to complete. It’s baffling, honestly. Take last night’s supper: it’s a simple, mini meatball soup with pasta and spinach. Nothing to it, right? We didn’t eat until 6:30. That’s 90 minutes. One of these days I’m going to get it together, I promise. But for now, 90 minute soup.
Italian Meatball Soup
finely diced onion
finely diced green bell pepper
a garlic clove, minced
breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers
Italian seasoning mix – I use the McCormick’s grinders brand
a tablespoon or so of grated parmesan
for the soup:
another clove of garlic, minced
some more diced onion
a carrot, diced
spinach – I used frozen since the fresh at the grocery store looked vomitous
more parmesan for serving
For the meatballs, mix: ground beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, bread or cracker crumbs, parmesan, a few good sized grinds of Italian seasoning (1/2 teaspoon perhaps?), the egg, and some salt and pepper to season until it forms a cohesive mixture. Form into mini meatballs, or large ones, if you want (those take longer to cook through though). Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Place your meatballs in the pan and cook, turning occasionally to brown them evenly, until the meatballs are cooked through. Drain on a paper towel lined plate. While these are cooking, start a pot of salted water boiling and cook your ditalini pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a soup pot, heat another tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, and carrot. Saute until the onion is softened. If you’re using fresh spinach, add it to the pot and let it cook until wilty. If you’re using frozen spinach, I defrosted mine in a smaller pot of water separately, then drained it well and added it to the soup pot. Pour in about 4 cups or so of chicken stock. Add in the bay leaf, thyme leaves, and basil. Let this hang out at a simmer in the broth for a few minutes, then remove the wilty basil and the bay leaf. Add in your meatballs and pasta and let this simmer for a few minutes more, just until the flavors have all come together. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with grated parmesan on top and with breadsticks or garlic bread if you want.