Tomato Soup with Spinach Meatballs

As the weather gets colder, my taste buds yearn for hot, hearty soups.  This tomato soup is thick, rich, aromatic, and a dinner unto itself.  Two things set it apart from spaghetti sauce: the emphasis on fresh basil (it has no oregano), and the meatballs are made of spinach and three types of meat, rather than just beef.

This dish can be eaten simply as a soup or with noodles or rice.  If you’re dieting and want to add noodles, consider using shirataki which is almost pure fiber and won’t add to your calorie count.  Also, you can make the soup thicker (as I did) by using canned crushed tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes.

I was making this soup with two of my grandchildren who are avid beginner cooks.  To keep them busy and feed their early teen appetites, I decided to triple the meatball mixture called for in the original recipe.  Feel free to cut back if you prefer.

Printer-friendly recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 8 cups of canned diced plum tomatoes (I used three 19 oz. cans, one of crushed tomatoes and two of diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2-4 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 bunch of spinach leaves, trimmed and rinsed (about 4 cups)
  • 24 oz. of meat mixture (lean beef, pork, and veal)
  • 1 – 4 tbsp. gluten-free bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup sheep romano cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté diced onion and 1 tsp. of minced garlic in beef broth until onion is tender.
  2. Add tomatoes, carrot, beef broth and basil.
  3. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  4. Salt, to taste.
  5. While soup is simmering, steam the spinach until it is wilted and then drain, by pressing out excess water.  Chop up the cooked spinach.
  6. In a large bowl, mix together spinach, 1 tbsp. of minced garlic, egg, cheese, and meat.
  7. Add bread crumbs by tablespoons until mixture is firm enough to make meatballs.(The less you use, the better for your diet.)
  8. Shape into meatballs that weigh 1 oz. apiece (about 1.5″ in diameter).
  9. Carefully lower a few meatballs at a time into simmering tomato soup.
  10. When all meatballs are added, cover soup and simmer for 15 minutes or until the meatballs have risen to the surface of the soup.
  11. Serve with additional romano cheese, if desired.

For Weight Watchers: It is a little difficult to gauge the point-value of this soup because the meat cooks in the soup, and there’s no way to drain off the fat.  Also, you can choose to eat as many meatballs as you want.  My suggestion: the soup has 0 point-value so count the meatballs at 1.5 points each on either the Points or PointsPlus plan.  And don’t forget to count the cheese you sprinkle on the soup.

(Adapted from “Tomato Soup with Rice and Spinach Meatballs” in Rice: The Amazing Grain by Marie Simmons.)

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