Italian Sausage Meatball Minestrone Soup

There is nothing more comforting to me on a cold day than a delicious bowl of homemade soup.  In the winter, I probably make a pot of homemade soup at least several times a week. I just love it!  It truly is the ultimate comfort food.

 



I think the best thing about making soup is how easy it is to customize to your own preference. If you have veggies in your fridge that need to be used up, go ahead and throw them in. The more, the merrier. This is more about the method than following the recipe correctly.

Options:

  • For a vegetarian version:  omit the meatballs and chicken stock. Add a can of rinsed and drained beans,( chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, etc.) Replace chicken stock with vegetable stock and use vegetarian Worcestershire.
  • For a gluten-free version: Make meatballs with GF Italian sausage and crushed rice crackers, GF chicken stock, Worcestershire, and pasta.

Tip: If you have leftover parmesan rinds, they add a great flavor to the soup. Just add and simmer with the rest of the ingredients. Remove before serving.

 

Italian Sausage Meatball Minestrone Soup

Recipe Source: Vintage Vibes

Meatballs:
  • 3/4 lb. hot Italian sausage meat
  • 1/3 cup finely ground cracker crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix together sausage and cracker crumbs. Roll into small meatballs. Bake on a lightly greased pan until cooked through. Set aside.

Soup:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • one medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • leftover Parmesan rinds, optional
  • 1/2 cup uncooked, small pasta shells
  • 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh basil

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until softened. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook one minute longer. Add roasted pepper, stock, Worcestershire, and tomatoes and Parmesan rinds. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour.
  2. Add pasta and kale and simmer until pasta is cooked. Add fresh basil, cooked meatballs and salt, and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan. Yields: 6 to 8 servings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Greek Quinoa Salad

 

A bright and refreshing salad that is packed with flavor. I have taken all of the traditional ingredients of a classic Greek Salad, adding cooked quinoa to really take it to the next level. This simple salad makes an excellent side dish or serve with cooked shrimp, chicken or chickpeas for a light but filling, lunch or dinner.


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Tips:

  1. Quinoa has a bitter coating on it, which needs to be rinsed off with cold water before the cooking process.
  2. All of the ingredients really shine in this dish, so make sure to use good quality ingredients, especially the olive oil, feta, and Kalamata olives.
  3. The feta and Kalamata olives are quite salty, so you will probably need less salt than you would for other salads. When you have all ingredients mixed together, taste, and only add salt if necessary.
  4. This salad will keep well in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to 5 days. I find it gets even better after a day or two.

 

Options:

  1. This salad (like most salads) is very customizable to adjust to your own preferences.
  2. If you are not a fan of quinoa – cooked rice, couscous, or orzo (rice-shaped) pasta would all be suitable substitutes.
  3. If you don’t have roasted red peppers, use fresh red peppers.
  4. Add a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas to this for a very light but filling, vegetarian meal.
  5. If you have fresh dill on hand, it would be lovely in this salad.

 

Greek Quinoa Salad

Recipe Source: Vintage Vibes

  • one cup quinoa, uncooked
  • one cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 Long English cucumber, diced
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 oz. roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup  good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning or dried oregano, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a fine mesh colander, rinse quinoa with cold water. Cook according to package directions. Fluff with a fork. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl mix together: cooked quinoa, tomatoes, olives, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, red pepper, and parsley.
  3. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
  4. Gently mix all ingredients together. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if desired. Serve cold. If not serving right away, keep in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.