Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

5
Serves

Most kids love spaghetti and meatballs; ours is a soup version of that perennial favorite. It's a terrific way to save time (and resources) by using up leftovers, including spaghetti, sausages or your favorite meatballs (unsauced, of course) — just toss them into the soup and simmer until heated through.

Garnished with some grated Parmesan and accompanied by crusty bread and a small green salad, this soup makes a hearty, satisfying meal you can feel good about serving to your family.

A wide-mouth Thermos makes this soup a delicious and comforting addition to your child's lunch box — or yours! — on a cold day.


Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (thinly sliced, about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon garlic (finely minced)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups fresh diced tomatoes (with juices or 2 28-oz cans diced or crushed tomatoes, with juice)
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
  salt
2 ounces uncooked whole wheat thin spaghetti (broken into short 2-inch pieces, or about 1 cup cooked spaghetti)
12 ounces uncooked chicken or pork sausage (or cooked sausage)
  Freshly ground black pepper
  Grated parmesan cheese, as garnish (optional)


Directions

Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Heat over medium heat until hot, then add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, 4 cups of the chicken stock, basil, oregano and 1 teaspoon of salt to the onion mixture. Raise the heat to high and bring to the start of a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture until the tomatoes are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly, then purée with an immersion (stick) blender, or in batches in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoons of salt and the spaghetti, stirring to separate the noodles. Cook according to package instructions, or until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain. (If you're using leftover cooked pasta, just add it to the soup at this point.)

Remove the sausage casings (if any) and roll the meat into small balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter. (If you’re using cooked sausage, cut each into bite-sized chunks or slices.)

Add the meatballs to the soup and place the saucepan over medium heat. If the meatballs are not cooked, poach them in the soup until they’re cooked through, simmering for 8 to 10 minutes. If you're using cooked (or leftover) meatballs, simmer them in the soup until heated through.

Just before serving, add the cooked spaghetti to the soup and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkle of Parmesan, if you like.

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