Meatball Minestrone

From Anne Grandjean, Director, Santa Clarita Valley School Food Service Ag

Add a piece of garlic bread and kids are good to go all day with this vitamin-rich and hearty soup.

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 7 cups water
  • 7 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes, mashed with a spoon
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried basil leaves
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup uncooked rotelli pasta (4 ounces)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Squeeze as much moisture as possible from spinach. Mix together with beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and pepper. Shape into 1-inch balls. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until very hot. Add a few meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Repeat till all are browned.

Remove excess oil and add onion to Dutch oven; cook until opaque. Stir in water, bouillon cubes, tomatoes, beans, oregano, and basil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add carrots and celery; cover and simmer for 10 minutes more. Stir in pasta; cover and simmer until done, about 10 minutes. Add meatballs and heat through, about 5 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 12

Nutrition facts per serving: 240 cal (33% cal. from fat), 9g total fat (2.5g sat fat, 4g mono, 1g poly), 35mg chol., 740mg sodium, 22g carbo., 5g fiber, 18g pro. Daily Values: 80% vit. A, 20% vit. C, 6% calcium, 15% iron, 12% potassium.

Adapted from a USDA National School Lunch Program recipe.