Soups on: Italian Vegetable and Meatball Soup

Here’s a quick, warm and inviting soup made with tender meatballs, vegetables and broken pieces of pasta — cooked in one pot. It’s a clever way to use up any leftover pasta in your pantry.

The pasta is cooked in the same pan as the meatballs. The meatballs are browned first, then added to the soup later. A secret to browning the meatballs is to place them in hot oil, allowing one side to brown before turning. Repeat this process, ensuring each meatball has a crust.

Helpful hints

• 95% lean ground beef can be used.• For the best meatball flavor, your ground thyme should be less than 6 months old.


• Prepare all ingredients.

• Grate the Parmesan cheese while the pasta cooks in the soup.

Shopping list

To buy: 1 bottle dried thyme, ½ pound ground bison, 1 jar minced garlic, 1 can reduced sodium diced tomatoes, 1 container no-salt-added chicken broth, ¼ pound spaghetti or linguine, 1 10 ounce bag ready-to-eat spinach and 1 piece Parmesan cheese.

Staples: Olive oil, onion.

Italian Vegetable and Meatball Soup

Serves: 2.

2 teaspoons dried thyme

½ pound ground bison

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sliced onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 cups drained reduced sodium diced tomatoes

2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

2 cups water

½ cup broken pieces of spaghetti or linguine (4 ounces)

10 ounces washed, ready-to-eat spinach (about 8 cups)

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix thyme into the ground bison. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roll into meatballs about 1inch in diameter to make 8 meatballs. Heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs on all sides, for about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add onion to the saucepan. Saute 3 minutes without browning, stirring once or twice. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook gently for 8 -9 minutes, stirring once to make sure the pasta cooks freely in the liquid. Add the spinach and mix well. Lower heat to medium and return meatballs to the soup and cook to heat through, about 2 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 160 degrees. Leave a little longer if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in 2 large soup bowls with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Per serving: 621 calories (29% from fat), 20.0 g fat (6.9 g saturated, 7.1 g monounsaturated), 89 cholesterol, 45.8 g protein, 66.6 g carbohydrates, 10.7 g fiber, 600 mg sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of more than 30 cookbooks, including her newest, “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook.” Listen to her on and all major podcast sites. Email her at

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