I love days when I’m on a recipe hunt, I find the perfect dish of the day, and lo and behold… I have every ingredient on hand. It’s somewhat serendipitous! What was even better? It was a soup – and the day was gray and chilly. I wanted “just” soup for dinner. The orzo soup recipe didn’t seem quite hearty enough on it’s own, so I made the mini-meatballs using ground chicken to “beef” it up a bit. Topped with the parmesan crisps… perfect.
My stock making skills
are were quite equal with my pie crust making skills [unsuccessful]. However Paula, at Constantly Cooking, had a post last week titled “Back to Basics: Vegetable Stock”. Paula’s easy to follow instructions gave me hope! And guess what? I made it and it was great! Thank you Paula 🙂
To make the Vegetable Stock Recipe, please visit [click there →] Constantly Cooking. Her directions are clear, concise and 100% doable!
Here are my “steps to stock” pictures [My apologies for the “yellow” pics. Reflective stainless steel does not photograph well!]:
While the stock is simmering, on to the meatballs…
Mini Chicken MeatballsIngredients:
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/4-1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Tablespoon milk
1/2 Tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• In a medium sized bowl, lightly whisk egg and milk.
•Add the ground chicken, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, ketchup, salt and pepper. Use a rubber spatula or your hands [I use my hands, just remove any rings first!] mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended. Add more bread crumbs as necessary if mixture is too soft [if it won’t hold together when making into balls, you need more bread crumbs].
•Heat a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle with olive oil. Form mixture in 1/2 inch diameter meatballs. The desire is to make them into “bite sized” portions. My yield was about 4 dozen.
•Brown meatballs. Do not overcrowd the skillet. You need room to turn or roll the meatballs to brown evenly on all sides. In my 12 inch skillet, I browned about 2 dozen at a time. Drizzle more olive oil as needed. Each batch will only take about 5 minutes due to the mini size. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Instructions/Directions: Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grate Parmesan cheese in 1 Tablespoon mounds, leaving about 1 inch between. Bake for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool before removing from tray.
Tip: Save the rind of the Parmesan cheese [it freezes well] and add chunks of about an inch or so to soups. It adds a wonderful, added boost of flavor.
Orzo Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes & Mini Meatballs
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained * [see note below]
15 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes [with basil and oregano]
8 ounces orzo pasta
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 inch chunk of Parmesan rind, optional
*Note: The 5 ounces of spinach is 1/2 of the standard 10 ounce package. The frozen spinach can easily be sliced in half before thawing, allowing 1/2 to remain frozen and stowed away for another use.
•Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Add minced garlic; saute for a minute or two, just until fragrant.
•Add tomatoes, spinach, stock, water and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer 20-25 minutes.
•Add orzo and meatballs. Cook 12-15 minutes, until orzo is tender and meatballs are heated through. Remove and toss remainder of cheese rind before serving.
•Ladle soup into bowls, top with Parmesan crisp.
Don’t forget to stop by Constantly Cooking for the stock recipe.
Meatballs adapted from foodnetwork.com, Soup adapted from: recipesquickneasy.com, Parmesan crisps from: yummymummykitchen.com