This soup makes a meal! If you like the soups at Olive Garden, this soup is for you. I got it from the “One Armed Cook”, but I’ve adapted it a little bit.
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 can cannellini (white kidney) beans (red are fine as well)
8 cups chicken broth
1 package dry vegetable soup mix (usually found by the dry onion mix)
1 16 oz. package frozen meatballs (I use the meatballs from Sam’s Club: I use 1/3-1/2 bag, and it is a 6 lb. bag)
1 can Italian-style diced tomatoes or 1 small can tomato soup (this depends on if you like tomato chunks or not)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups pasta (small is key: ditalini, orzo, or short wide egg noodles)
Fresh baby spinach (optional)
In a very large saucepan, pour olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and cook until they are tender (about 5 minutes). Watch the garlic; it burns fast. Pour in your chicken broth and bring to a boil. While your waiting for the broth to boil, put the meatballs in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a little water, and pre-cook them in the microwave. This allows the grease to drain off of them (they are very greasy!) When the broth is boiling, add the meatballs, dry vegetable soup mix, tomatoes or tomato soup (whichever style you prefer), crushed red pepper, and the pasta. When the pasta is cooked (about 15 minutes), add the beans. I add them at the end…otherwise they get too mushy.
Right before you serve the soup, you can drop the spinach in each bowl. It makes a beautiful presentation, but it goes mushy quickly, of course. So never add it to the big pot of soup. You will probably have left-overs, and the spinach just falls apart and has a terrible texture if you leave it in the soup overnight. So it is up to you. I, most of the time, leave it out.
This recipe works in the crock pot as well.