Italian Mini Meatball and Tomato Soup

 

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As much as I love living in Michigan…I gotta say, I am getting really sick of this cold weather. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled the last couple of years, but usually by mid March, 20 degree weather is a thing of the past. Last year, we were blessed with 60 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine by St. Patrick’s Day. 2013 is a different story. Nowadays I get really excited if it’s above 30 degrees in the middle of the day. And the biggest bummer is that these somewhat frigid temperatures are totally screwing up my running schedule. I know, I know. First world problems. But having to bundle up with layer after layer of under armour is definitely making training for my next race a little less fun. I have a 10K in 3 weeks and am having a hard time fitting in longer distances without having my lungs freeze…or ya know, falling flat on my face and breaking my finger.

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Yeah, that happened. A few weeks ago I slipped on some ice at 6am and wound up with a swollen and purple index finger. But once I got to work, my boss whipped out a makeshift splint for me which obviously left me looking super cool. What can I say? I have a talent for attracting catostrophes. But I must say, the one upside to the cooler temperatures is I’ve had a little more time to try out the warm winter-y recipes I’ve been saving. Like this recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. This soup is warm and comforting, and thanks to the mini meatballs is total “guy food.” (but it is still pretty healthy) I used medium size shell pasta the first time I made it, but I would recommend using macaroni noodles or mini shells because the pasta does tend to soak up a good amount of the broth. The result is a rich tomato soup perfect for a chilly winter…or spring evening.

Ingredients: Adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

Mini Meatballs: Makes 40 mini meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans ( 10.5 oz each) lower sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (28 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup mini pasta shells or macaroni

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, place all meatball ingredients and mix well until spices are well incorporated (mixing with your hands is the easiest way!)
  2. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, evenly spaced
  3. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through
  4. In a large soup pot, place 2 teaspoons olive oil and heat over medium heat
  5. Add onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions begin to soften
  6. Add garlic and let cook for 1 minute
  7. Stir in broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil
  8. Add in pasta and reduce heat
  9. Cover pot and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until pasta is tender
  10. Stir in meatballs and stir until heated through

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Vegetarian Chili

About a year ago, I shared the story behind my family’s beloved recipe for Gazpacho Soup and how our neighbors patiently await its return each summer. After finishing off their portion of  Gazpacho, some of our neighbors have returned our mason jars to us filled with a soup of their own. And the following recipe is a take off of one of my favorite of these “thank you” soups. Our neighbors, The Trains, shared this amazing recipe for vegetarian chili with us last winter and it soon became a Sunday night staple. I would make a big batch of it on Sunday nights in order to bring to work with me for lunch throughout the following week. The chili is full of flavor and serves as a hearty and incredibly filling lunch. You barely even notice that it doesn’t have any meat in it! Three different varieties of beans gives this chili added protein , and I’ve found that just about any vegetable can be added in for some extra flavor. Paired with some hearty Pumpkin Cornbread (recipe to come!) and you have yourself a healthy and hearty meal, perfect for the colder months to come.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yello onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 14oz cand of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14oz can white northern beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14oz can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat and add olive oil, onions and garlic. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add bell peppers and carrots and saute for 10 minutes, or until peppers are tender
  3. Add next four ingredients (tomatoes through tomato paste)  and bring mixture to a boil.
  4. Stir in beans and spices, stirring frequently
  5. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes before serving

Tomato Basil Soup with Caprese Grilled Cheese

Winter often signifies the time we all want nothing more than to cozy up inside and indulge in heavier, comforting meals. Yet a wintertime diet of comfort food, often doesn’t bode well for those new year’s resolutions and fitness pledges we made earlier this month. So why can’t we have both? Warm, homemade comfort foods that consist of fresh, healthy ingredients. Ingredients that won’t cause a jump in the number on the scale. One that we often rationalize as a mere side effect of those heavier sweaters that appear in our wardrobe in the colder months. Sweaters don’t weigh five pounds, friends. I think we can all admit that. But I have a solution. Why not use all that produce and fresh herbs that we adored in the summertime to create a meal that satisfies those winter cravings. And here we have it. The classic tomato soup dressed up with fresh basil and roasted red peppers. This soup is a perfect Sunday afternoon recipe that will last all week long, and only get better as the flavors settle in. And what better way to complement tomato soup than with its classic counterpart, the grilled cheese. Yet this grilled cheese is a bit fancier than its Kraft cheese relative. Taking inspiration from a caprese salad, this sandwich features fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and homemade pesto. It’s great for dipping in your homemade soup, but it’s also great on its own. So enjoy your snowy afternoon in with some comfort food …without the guilt.

Ingredients:

Tomato Soup:

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped finely
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 14oz  can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 14 oz can diced stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
Pesto:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 fresh parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
Sandwiches: for 1 sandwich (can be duplicated for multiple servings)
  • 2 slices Whole Grain bread
  • 1-2 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 slice tomato
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine

Preparation:

For the Soup:

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium low heat
  2. Add minced garlic and let cook for 1 minute
  3. Add chopped onion and let cook until onions are tender
  4. Add cherry tomatoes and let cook until tomatoes are soft, mash tomatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large wooden spoon
  5. Transfer tomato mixture into food processor and process until smooth, transfer mixture back into pot and simmer over medium low heat
  6. Place roasted red peppers & fire roasted tomatoes in food processor and process until smooth, but let a few chunks remain in order to add texture to the soup
  7. Pour red peppers & tomatoes into pot
  8. Stir in chicken broth and let mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  9. In the meantime, drain stewed tomatoes until no liquid remains, and add to pot
  10. Stir in milk and sprinkle in fresh basil; add salt & pepper to taste

For the pesto sandwiches:

  1. In a food processor, grind all pesto ingredients together until mixture resembles a thick paste; add more olive oil as needed
  2. Take two pieces of whole grain bread and spread inside with pesto
  3. Layer tomato and fresh mozzarella on bread and spread outside with vegan butter or margarine
  4. Grill sandwiches for 2-3 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown

Chicken Tortellini Soup

When asked about a favorite season, most people would cite the lazy, warm days of summer. The days are longer and the attitude is more relaxed. Others will choose the snowy winters that bring that magical holiday season and the … Continue reading