Extra soft, extra juicy and extra tasty meatballs, served up in a cheesy tomato spaghetti soup that’s all made in one pot! By cooking them in the same pot the soup is made in, it adds incredible extra flavour into the soup.
Here by popular demand! Because I’ve given this out to so many readers by email, I thought I’d better just share it!
My Classic Italian Meatballs are one of the most popular recipes here on RecipeTin Eats. With good reason I think, in my humble opinion.:-) They are softer, juicier and have extra flavour crammed into them thanks to a couple of small but key things I do differently to the usual:
- Adding grated onion to soften the bread and add extra flavour into the meatballs, while avoiding chunks of uncooked onion in the meatballs which can happen if you use diced onion; and
- Using bread, not breadcrumbs, that are soaked in the grated onion. It literally disintegrates when mixed through and when the meatballs are cooked, the little bits of bread sort of “puff” which creates little air pockets in the meatballs which makes them the meatballs extra soft inside.
I’ll leave it at that because I went into some detail behind my logic in the Classic Italian Meatballs recipe! And here they are….don’t you think they even look soft and juicy?? 🙂
These meatballs are destined to be used in a soup. The extra flavour in the meatballs is key to an extra flavourful soup. Not a drop of flavour is wasted in this recipe! All those gorgeous brown bits in the pot from browning the meatballs are mixed into the soup, and the meatballs are plonked in the soup to finish cooking so all those juices mix in as well.
Oh! Have I mentioned that this is all made in one pot? 🙂 In fact, cooking the spaghetti in the soup thickens it even more thanks to the starch. Ooooh, and I especially love how the spaghetti soaks up all the tomato soup flavour!
I make the meatballs a tiny bit smaller than the recipe for my Classic Italian Meatballs. I just feel that it makes the soup slightly easier to eat. I mean, long strands of spaghetti in a bright red tomato sauce with melted cheese on top is already a challenge to eat as it is without making the meatballs giant size.
You know that this is going to be a mess to eat, right? A beautiful, enjoyable mess. Tomato splattered on your face, some might even make it into your hair. I strongly recommend wearing black and if you are feeding kids, consider dinner outdoors? 😉
PS You could be sensible and use macaroni or risoni/orzo, or another type of pasta that is easier to eat. But where’s the fun in that??
I know that half the world is heading into summer, but for us folks in Australia, what seemed like an Endless Summer is officially over as of yesterday when Daylight Saving ended. Autumn is really here. The evenings are cooler, the days are noticeably shorter. In fact, as I hit Publish, it’s pouring with rain outside.
And because I’m pouting that every weekend may no longer be spent at the beach, I’m consoling myself at the thought that winter = comfort food. And really, right at this moment, I can’t think of anything more comforting that this Italian Meatball Soup! – Nagi x
- 1 lightly packed cup of sliced white sandwich bread , torn into small pieces, crusts removed (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup grated onion (brown, white or yellow)
- 14 oz / 400 g ground beef (beef mince)
- 3 oz / 100g ground pork (mince) or more ground beef (Note 2)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley , finely chopped (Note 3)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan), freshly grated
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion , finely chopped (white, brown or yellow)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 cups chicken broth / stock (or water)
- 1 cup water
- 24 oz / 700g passata (pureed tomato) (Note 4)
- 28 oz / 800g canned tomato
- 1 tbsp Italian mixed herbs (Note 5)
- 2 tsp garlic powder (or onion powder)
- 1 - 2 tsp red pepper / chilli flakes (optional)
- 8 oz / 250g spaghetti (dried, not fresh or cooked)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves , torn
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan), freshly grated
Place the bread and onion in a large bowl. Mix to combine so the onion juice soaks the bread.
Add all the remaining Meatball ingredients. Use you hands to mix well.
Roll a slightly heaped tablespoon of mixture into a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture. Should make around 24. (Note 6) Refrigerate meatballs for 30 minutes (Note 7)
Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and brown all over (still raw inside) - I do this in 2 batches. Remove meatballs onto a plate and set aside.
If the pot is looking dry, add a touch more olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add chicken broth, bring to simmer and scrape the bottom of the pot to mix the brown bits into the liquid.
Add remaining Soup ingredients except spaghetti. Bring to simmer, turn heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.
Take the lid off and add spaghetti. Use tongs to push it all under the liquid as it starts to soften. Once the spaghetti is submerged, add the meatballs. Cook for around 12 minutes, or until spaghetti is just cooked but still firm (al dente). Remove from stove.
If using cheese, sprinkle on the surface of the soup after you take it off the stove, put the lid back on and let the heat melt the cheese (~2 minutes).
Ladle soup, spaghetti and meatballs into bowls. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano, if using.
1. Plain white sandwich bread is best for this, but you can substitute with other breads. Tear them into small pieces with your hands, and do not include the crust. You can use slightly stale bread. If you prefer, you can substitute with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs - preferably panko. But the meatballs won't be as soft!
2. Pork is slightly fattier than beef so it helps make these extra juicy. I only use 3 1/2 oz / 100 g because pork has less flavour than beef and I don't want to dilute the flavour. This isn't hugely critical though and you should feel free to just use 1 lb / 500 g beef mince which is what I do on ordinary nights. 🙂
3. You can substitute with 1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley, or a mix of equal amounts of dried oregano, thyme, basil and parsley. You could also use an Italian herb mix if you wanted to.
4. Tomato passata is just pureed tinned tomatoes and it's great because it's smoother and thicker than crushed tomatoes. Nowadays it is readily available in supermarkets, usually alongside pasta sauces. If you can't find it, puree canned tomatoes or use crushed canned tomatoes.
5. You can substitute with a mix of equal amounts of dried oregano, thyme, basil and parsley.
6. Here's how I roll meatballs - measure out heaped tablepoons of mixture and pop them onto a plate with the flick of your wrist. Repeat with all the mixture. THEN wet your hands slightly and roll them one by one. I find this faster than measuring and rolling each one separately. 🙂 Don't over roll them! They will become tough!
7. Meatballs firm when refrigerated and it helps ensure they hold together when cooked. This step isn't required in my Italian Meatballsrecipe which are cooked in a non stick pan. But I don't have a non stick pot!
8. If you have leftovers, I suggest removing the spaghetti and keeping it separate because otherwise it will become very bloated.
9. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.
PS The moment when I wished I had a little handbag dog instead of an abnormally large golden retriever: when Dozer lifted his head and the meatballs went flying. He inhaled 3 before I got over my shock and busted him!