Meatball Soup with Pasta

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*Note: For a boost of flavor and spice, add a pinch of dried red pepper flakes to the soup! You may end up with extra meatballs (which is why I didn't stir them all into the soup and instead, served them individually in each bowl of soup). Simply freeze the leftover meatballs to be used another time (perfect in these meatball subs or a remake of this soup).

*Serves 4-6


For the meatballs:

1 cup panko crumbs or regular bread crumbs

1 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey, chicken or beef

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the soup:

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes (use fire-roasted diced tomatoes for a boost of flavor)

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

1 cup dry orzo pasta

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup frozen peas

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


For the meatballs, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the panko and buttermilk. Let the mixture sit for five minutes. Add in the ground meat and all the other ingredients. Mix until well combined.

Form 1-inch or slightly larger-sized meatballs and place them about 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside (if there is an excess of grease on the baking tray, remove the meatballs to a paper-towel lined plate).

To make the soup, while the meatballs bake, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste until well combined. Add the diced tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add the orzo pasta and brown sugar, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender but not mushy and soft. Stir in the peas and meatballs (see note above the recipe!) and cook until just heated through. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Alternately, you can add the meatballs to individual bowls of soup if you don't want to stir them into the soup with the peas.