My meatball soup is a wonderfully cozy recipe to prepare when a bit of extra TLC is needed. Rich and brothy, filled with mildly spicy and tender beef meatballs, white beans, plus an abundance of hearty veggies, this comforting and healthy soup will warm your belly and sooth your soul!
The Coziness of a Meatball Soup
Soup is my friend, and it comforts, soothes and satisfies me to my little core...
It's the type of meal I love to prepare when our bellies crave something incredibly cozy and warming, something we can create a complete meal out of when we pair it with crusty, homemade sourdough bread, or crisp croutons.
And because my hubby has always been a fan of albondigas (a spiced, Mexican meatball soup) this gave me the inspiration to create my own unique version of a meatball soup, a bit more brothy and Italian-inspired, as a tasty alternative.
This delicious meatball soup is prepared with beef broth, and brimming with fresh herbs, lots of vegetables such as carrots, celery, parsnips and fennel, plus delicate white beans, all simmered up together with those tender and lightly spicy meatballs. Vibrant kale is even added in at the end for an extra dose of healthy greens!
For us, this savory meatball soup is the perfect meal to ladle into our bowls and cozy up with while wrapped up in "blankies" on the couch, watching our favorite evening shows.
It is the epitome of TLC in liquid elixir form, brimming with lots of nourishment, both comforting and healthy. And in my book, there's no better combination.
A Very Veggie-Full and Savory Meatball Soup Recipe
When it comes to preparing a meatball soup with lots of rich, earthy and deep flavor, choosing some deliciously aromatic ingredients to add to both the meatballs and the soup broth is the way to go.
For the juicy and savory beef meatballs, I use lean organic ground beef seasoned with garlic, dried Italian herbs, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and some parmesan cheese. Those ingredients, along with some salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, eggs and milk, provide lots of flavor and create that tender texture in the meatballs when gently simmered in the soup.
In the base of this delicious meatball soup I use an array of veggies beginning with onion, carrot and celery, then adding diced fennel and parsnip to round out the flavors.
White beans are added to the soup for a touch more texture, followed by kale, fresh herbs, and a kiss of lemon for brightness.
Here's a peek at my meatball soup recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- I begin by preparing my meatball mixture, then roll into bite-size meatballs and set those aside.
- Next, the soup base is prepared, and once it begins to simmer, I carefully begin adding the meatballs into the soup, followed by my white beans, and allow things to gently simmer for about 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, I turn off the heat and add in my chopped herbs, kale, lemon juice and zest, and stir to incorporate. I ladle the meatball soup into bowls, and garnish with shaved parmesan and serve with fresh bread.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 362 calories per serving
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- Black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup panko (or regular) breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
- ½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup worth)
- 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- Black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 8 cups beef (or chicken) stock (or broth)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 cups kale, chopped to bite size
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup shaved parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Crusty, rustic bread, to serve on the side
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the meatball ingredients according to the meatball ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare the meatballs, combine the ground beef with a couple of good pinches of salt (about 2 teaspoons) and pepper, plus the remainder of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, gently mix the ingredients together until well combined, and roll into bite-sized meatballs; set meatballs aside.
- Gather together and prep all of your soup ingredients according to the soup ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare the soup, place a large soup pot set over medium heat, and add the butter and the oil; once melted together, add the onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and fennel. Stir gently and allow the veggies to sweat for about 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add the Italian seasoning, a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, plus the garlic, and allow to become aromatic; once fragrant, add the beef stock/broth to the pot, and gently stir to blend all ingredients.
- Allow for soup to begin to simmer and gently bubble, and then carefully begin adding the meatballs into the hot soup; once all are added, give a gentle stir to move the meatballs around a bit. Now add the white beans, and allow the meatball soup to simmer on medium-low with the lid slightly askew for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 45 minutes, turn off the heat and add the basil, parsley, kale, lemon juice and zest, and give a gentle stir to incorporate. Allow soup to sit for 5-10 minutes.
- To serve, ladle the meatball soup into bowls and garnish with a generous sprinkling of the shaved parmesan cheese, and enjoy with a thick slice of the crusty bread.
Tips & Tidbits for my Meatball Soup:
- Lean organic beef for best flavor: I opt for 85/15 lean to fat ratio when purchasing my ground beef, and also like to choose organic. The organic is slightly pricier, but the flavor and quality are much better. (You could also substitute pork, chicken or turkey for the meatballs, if you prefer.)
- Beef or chicken stock: While I prefer to use beef stock to reinforce the beer flavor in this meatball soup, you could absolutely substitute chicken stock here, or even veggie stock.
- Kale or spinach, for added greens: Hearty kale is my pick for hearty greens added in at the end here, but if you prefer to use spinach, feel free to add that. Either work well in this soup, and offer some extra nutrients.
- Navy beans for delicate texture: Navy beans are the tiny white beans that are almost pearl-like. I love these as their skins are more delicate, and they're a little prettier in the soup. However, feel free to use great northern beans or even cannellini beans, if those are what you have on hand.
Hungry for more cozy and comforting soups? Check out this Albondigas Soup, this Beef Barley Soup, this Hearty Italian Chicken and Autumn Veggie Soup, this Minestrone Soup with Meatballs, or this Philly Cheesesteak Stew!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2012, and has been updated with even more love!