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Turkey Meatball and Pasta Soup

Here’s a warm idea for dinner in a bowl on a winter night…hot broth, vegetables, juicy meatballs and pasta. Add a baguette, and there you have it.

This soup was inspired by two recipes: Italian Wedding Soup from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, and Escarole and Conchigliette Soup with Parmesan Meatballs from Julie of Kitchen Culinaire. Ina Garten uses ground chicken and sausage and Julie uses minced pork in the meatballs – I used ground turkey and Turkey Finocchio Sausage purchased from Jackson’s at Granville Island.

Meatballs
1 egg
2/3 c. fresh breadcrumbs, crusts removed and torn into small pieces (I used Terra cheese bread)
1/2 lb. turkey Finocchio sausage, casings removed
3/4 lb. ground turkey
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 T. parsley, chopped
1/4 t. chilli flakes
1 t. Kosher salt
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350º. Combine egg and breadcrumbs and stir until egg is completely absorbed. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients, mixing well. Form into 1″ balls and place them on a sheet pan, lined with parchment paper or Silpat non-stick baking mat. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

Soup
2 T. olive oil
1 c. onion, minced
1 c. carrots, chopped fine
1/2 c. celery, chopped fine
8 c. chicken or turkey stock (see below for my adaptation of Cheaters’ Homemade Stock)
1/2 c. dry white wine (optional)
1 c. orecchiette pasta (or any small pasta)
12 oz. baby spinach
extra Parmesan, for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer until pasta is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the meatballs and heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the spinach and cook 1 minute, just to wilt the spinach. Ladle into bowls and serve with extra Parmesan cheese. The stock and meatballs can be made ahead, then finishing the soup takes only as long as it takes the pasta and spinach to cook.

Cheaters’ Homemade Stock (from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper)
1/2 c. white wine (optional)
2 large garlic cloves, crushed leaving skins on
2 whole cloves
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 – 946 ml cartons of Chicken Stock (I like Kitchen Basics Chicken Cooking Stock, Unsalted)
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain and use, refrigerate or freeze.

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