Shirley Scrafford, certified personal chef and President of My Chef Shirley LLC, suggests this soup as a tasty springtime main dish or side dish (along with a sandwich or salad). A quick and healthy meal for families, this recipe is easily modified for picky eaters–Scrafford recommends adding a can of drained white beans or larger amounts of vegetables for those who prefer a more stew-like soup. For those wanting to add fiber to their diet, Scrafford suggests substituting either whole grain pasta or 1 cup of cooked white beans for the pasta. Ground turkey can also be used in place of the chicken, and this recipe can be easily doubled for larger families. Enjoy a healthy meal without sacrificing taste with this meatball soup.
Makes 4 servings if used as a main dish, 6 servings as a side.
-8 ounces ground chicken breast
-½ cup fresh bread crumbs (preferably whole grain)
-6 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Tablespoons fresh chives or green onion tops, finely chopped
-1 egg, beaten
-½ teaspoon salt
-¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-2 Tablespoons extra virgin oil
-1 leek, cleaned and sliced in half rounds
-2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
-6 cups lower sodium chicken broth
-½ cup small pasta, shells or ditalini
-1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
-1 cup zucchini, diced
-2 ounces baby spinach (about 1 cup packed)
-1 Tablespoon fresh basil, sliced
-Salt and pepper to taste
Mix chicken, breadcrumbs, three tablespoons Parmesan, two minced garlic cloves, chives, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Form into 1/2″-3/4″ diameter small meatballs. Heat half of the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook meatballs until golden all over, about three minutes (they will finish cooking in soup). Set aside. Add remaining half of oil to a pot and heat over medium high heat. Add leeks to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about three minutes. Add sliced garlic cloves; cook for one minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and carrots; simmer until pasta is almost al dente, about eight minutes. Add meatballs and zucchini; simmer until pasta is al dente, carrots are tender and meatballs are cooked through, about three minutes. Add spinach and remaining three tablespoons Parmesan; stir until spinach is wilted and Parmesan is melted. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped basil.