If you’re a soup lover like me, a big pot of soup on a chilly Fall day is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I really love a good, hearty soup that I can have for at least two days or even just one and freeze the rest. Something with meat always feels like a main meal, too. If it has pasta or rice or bulgur, I see no need to have bread on the side, but that’s just me; it’s filling enough with one of those types of carbs.
One of my heartiest soup recipes I love to make in Fall & Winter is our traditional Italian Wedding Soup. I grew up on it. First, my Sicilian grandmother made it occasionally for the family Sunday dinner of 30+ people and then my mom started making it at home for us and I think she tweaked the recipe perfectly to our tastebuds, adding more cheese, meat and parsley to the meatball mixture. That soup takes more work, however, because it also has chicken in it, so this Meatball & Mini Ravioli Soup is like my shortcut version- similar taste in much less time.
In this recipe, I use small cheese-filled ravioli, which I found at Trader Joe’s. They take about 16-18 minutes to cook, so they are the last ingredient I add. The big ravioli just don’t make sense to me in this dish, but if you like that by all means use those instead. You could even skip the meatballs and get meat-filled ravioli (which I just thought of as I write this), but I really love the meatballs.
The very first step is to prepare those delicious meatballs. I was craving turkey protein for some odd reason (must be the Fall weather and thoughts of the upcoming Thanksgiving), but if you want to make the meatballs out of beef, chicken or even lamb, you can certainly do that.
I add a few special ingredients: Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, minced garlic, dried parsley and homemade breadcrumbs. My breadcrumbs are darker than what you might see in stores because I made them from whole wheat bread slices. You can definitely use the store-bought ones, of course, not adding extra work for yourself like me in this case…
Some people skip this next step of baking the meatballs in the oven and they instead cook the meatballs directly into the pot. You can do that, too, but I like the flavor they get when baked first. If I’m in a real hurry, I’ll skip this step and simply sauté them in the pot directly. If baking, do so in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.
The next thing I do is start the base for the soup: Sauté onions, tomatoes, garlic in olive oil. Add dried herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, if you like. Watch the salt because you’ll be adding the meatballs which already have salt in them.
You can skip this next step if your meatballs have browned nicely in the oven: Sauté to brown them for added flavor directly in the pot, just for a few minutes then remove and set aside. *If you did not bake them in the oven- please do this step.
Add as much water to fill the pot. In my Dutch oven, I add about 8 cups of water, gently pouring on top of the meatballs so as not to break them.
Once the liquid comes to a boil, allow the soup to cook for about 30 minutes over medium-high heat, covered. This makes the meatballs really moist.
When you’re about 20 minutes to finish time (or less, depending on the cooking time of the ravioli), it’s time to add these, too.
In my case, these needed to cook for 16-18 minutes. As I said, just follow your ravioli package’s directions. If you’re making homemade ravioli (you’ve just become my hero), they’ll cook for way less time, like under five minutes.
Taste and adjust for salt, pepper and any other spices and herbs. Reduce heat to a simmer, so as not to overcook the ravioli or burst them apart, which sometimes happens on too high of a heat/flame.
Once the ravioli is cooked, you’re ready to serve. Gently ladle into bowls with about 3 meatballs per person (that works in my house, but more or less depending on your own preference). Add some Parmesan cheese on top and serve. That’s an absolute must for me…
What’s your favorite hearty soup dish to cook in the Fall and/or Winter?
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, slightly beatenFor the Soup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tomato, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
1 pound dried mini raviolis
Fresh Parmesan cheese, optional
Fresh flat leaf parsley to top the soup, optional
To prepare the meatball mixture:
In a medium size bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Roll into small to medium size balls and place on a parchment-lined oven tray. Bake for 30 minutes then remove from oven and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, tomato and garlic. Saut until soft and translucent. Add the baked or raw meatballs, then the water.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Cover and let cook for about 30 minutes- double the time if you’re adding raw meatballs instead of baked.
Add the ravioli or pasta and cook according to the instructions on its packaging, over medium heat.
Serve in individual bowls with 2-3 meatballs per bowl. Add fresh Parmesan and freshly chopped parsley, if you have it.