A warm and savory broth filled with light and fluffy meatballs and tender tortellini. This Italian meatball soup will have your sniffles fleeing and your belly smiling.
Years ago…about 8…before I had the baby, before I had a husband and even before I had my own house, I spent many a weekend at my brother’s house. They happened to live closer to my husband (boyfriend at the time), to all my friends and it did not hurt that we were all always happy to hang out together on weekends. The best part was, there was no driving necessary at the end of a tequila bender. I just walked a few hundred square feet to my bedroom and fell asleep into a dream filled slumber.
Unfortunately, my slumbers never lasted long.
Every morning, I was rudely awakened by a gorgeous little munchkin with a head full of chestnut curls. My nephew Dylan ran into my bedroom always before his parents. And he begged me to come and play before I could even rub the sleep out of eyes. I of course obliged and followed the rambunctious two foot toddler into their over sized living room to assist him in his zoo computer game.
Dylan was the first little baby I had ever met. He was born on a crazy snow blizzard 10 years ago. I was in the hospital alongside my brother and sister in law the whole time, impatiently waiting to meet this little boy who I had already loved.
As soon as we all laid eyes on him, we new he was a blessing from above. He looked like an angel, a beautiful little heart shaped face with sapphire blue eyes. But the most precious thing of all, was that he looked just like his namesake, Dora, his grandmother, mine and my brother’s mom. Sadly the munchkin would never get to meet the woman his sweet face reminded us so much of but we swore to always remind him who this incredible woman was whose namesake he carried.
Just look at that beautiful face.
I was at their house every day after college and even more so on the weekends. Volunteering to babysit so the parents can have a much needed night off and even volunteering to wake up in the crack of dawn with him so that my brother and sis-in-law could sleep in.
I loved hanging out with him. Watching him grow everyday into the funny, quirky and smart little boy he is today was just the distraction I needed from the hectic life I lived back then. He always made me laugh with his smart a$$ comments and his funny faces.
He even went wedding dress shopping with me. And posed.
And when it was wedding time. this handsome little guy, was one of my ring bearers and he partied with the best of us late into the night.
Dusya, as I had nicknamed him, quickly outgrew his chunky baby days and developed into an adorable little bobblehead as I had also nicknamed him. I still have the vision of him running around the house in diapers, with a huge head of curls and thin, long limbs. He was blessed with my brother’s physique and unfortunately also with my brother’s appetite as a child. The kid refused to eat. Except soups. He loved soups.
So I happily obliged and cooked him all different kinds of soups. I was more than happy to do so. My brother had the most gorgeous chef’s kitchen complete with a 6 burner Viking range. My hands itched just looking at it.
My sister in law asked me to pack as many calories into these soups to get the lean munchkin as full as possible.
I created this soup for Dusya and ever since have been feeding my munchkin and my client’s kids without any problems.
For some reason, all the kiddos are drawn to the plump little tortellini and are distracted from the pieces of spinach in there. Well all except my client’s little Sophie… she requests I make the soup without it. In fact, she decided that she will now be making the soup on her own.
Dylan turned 10 this year. And I cannot believe that little boy that we all met on a very snowy winter day is almost as tall as me. To the first little boy who stole my heart. Thank you for being such a picky eater…you made me quite the creative soup maker 🙂
Today, I make this soup for my little munchkin all the time. I can put it together quickly while she naps and give her a comforting, belly warming meal. That’s the ultimate, best thing about this soup! It comes together in 30 minutes and tastes like it’s been simmering away ALL DAY.
My little munchkin is quite the fan of this soup as well…actually she is a fan of all soups…and she is not the happiest of campers when she has to wait for it.
The aforementioned Sophie’s mom is one of my greatest and favorite clients. On one private cooking lesson she asked me to teach her a super simple and quick soup she could make for Sophie on a whim.
I did not even have to think twice. I knew this would be perfect for Soph.
Tortellini en brodo literally translates into tortellini in broth. Traditionally it was made with a homemade broth that was simmering away all day and with handmade tortellinis either filled with meats or cheeses.
My version starts with a good quality, low sodium chicken broth right from the store. Simple right? And yet it is full of so many complex flavors. And instead of using meat tortellini I use cheese and add cute little tiny meatballs, ie polpetti.
The secret to those flavor complexities is this.
Parmesan rind. You may have seen this in some of my other soups like the Italian Wedding Soup and the Rustic Tuscan Sausage and Kale soup. There’s a reason for this, the flavor that it gives the soup is savory and a nutty saltiness. It’s truly incredible.
So start with a nice large pot of 2 boxes of chicken broth, about 8 cups. (I prefer broth over stock for this recipe.) Add in your rind and 4 cloves of garlic.
Bring it up to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Let it go for about 20 minutes, slowly simmering away.
In the meantime we are going to make our little meatballs. I used the same recipe as I did for my Italian Wedding Soup.
They are baked off first for about 7 minutes in a 450-degree oven.
Then we add in about 3/4 of a cup of any FRESH store bought (or handmade, if you have time for that) tortellini to the pot.
Just make sure to get a nice quality one. They are usually in the refridgerated section by some cheeses.
Increase to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes and add in your meatballs.
Add in your spinach and stir. Shred in some lemon zest. Taste for seasoning. If at this point you do not feel it has enough flavor, feel free to boost it with my other secret weapon Better than Bouillion.
I also like to add some chopped parsley and plenty of good freshly shaved Parmesan on top. Serve to your hungry munchkins.
Look at her…awaiting the soup.
Tortellini en Brodo
For The broth
- 8 cups of good homemade or store bought chicken broth
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 8 oz of fresh tortellini
- 1 Parmesan rind
- 1 cup of chopped baby spinach
- 1 tsp or more of lemon zest
- chopped parsley for garnish
- OPTIONAL: Better than Bouillion if you need more flavor in the soup
For the Meatballs
- 1.5 pounds ground chicken
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup milk 2%, whole, skim, all is fine
- 3 tablespoons freshly parsley finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pour broth, garlic and parmesan rind into a large soup pot and bring up to a simmer. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Combine ground chicken, Parmesan cheese, parsley, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl. Combine mixture with your hands until just mixed, do not over mix or you will end up having dense meat balls.
- Prepare a sheet pan by spraying it with pan spray and THEN putting parchment on top. Create a huge "X" on the sheet from one corner to the next. This is a great trick to get your paper to stick onto the sheet pan.
- Use a tablespoon, melon baller, or small ice cream scoop to shape the meatballs. Do not make them too smooth, the rigid edges will allow for better browning in the oven.
- Place meatballs into the oven and let cook for 7 minutes.
- Back to the soup. Taste for seasoning. If you are using store bought broth or stock you may need to add in more flavor. Add in your Better Than Bouillion 1 tbsp at a time. Tasting as you go.
- After the soup has simmered for 15-20 minutes, add in your tortellini and let cook for another 5-7 minutes on a nice simmer.
- Add in meatballs. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add in spinach and stir. Taste for seasoning and add in lemon zest.
- Serve with a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan, freshly chopped parsley and some more lemon zest.