We’ve established that wimpy soups are simply not welcome at House Morell. Especially during the fall and winter months.
If you take a lovely minestrone, and load it up with meatballs and tortellini… no one could possibly mistake this soup for wimpy. And who doesn’t love spicy little meatballs? And cheesy tortellini? In soup? A soup laden with vegetables such carrots and tomatoes, spinach and butternut squash, and flavored with white wine and thyme…
In fact, I do believe it becomes a meal worthy of serving to guests… which is what we did on Friday night (Halloween, that is.)
Let me admit to you, our wedding anniversary is Halloween.
No, it was not a costume wedding… in fact, neither one of us particularly love dressing up at all. And you may have noticed I was one of the few food bloggers on the planet who didn’t offer up a creative Halloween recipe last week.
It’s just that 22 years ago, the 31st of October fell on a Saturday, and it happened to be the only day our chapel and reception venue were both available (not surprisingly).
The thought that we would spend the rest of our lives sharing our anniversary with trick-or-treaters never once crossed our minds. It probably should have. But that’s OK, the good news is, M never forgets the date. And we can always toast the evening with leftover Twix bars. (It has also become a long-standing tradition to go out to celebrate a day or two later.)
So on this anniversary/Halloween, we invited some great friends over, built a fire in the fireplace, had some festive cocktails, and put out a tray of cheese and wonderful crusty bread bread… and served up this hearty soup.
And occasionally handed out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Here’s to many more Halloween Anniversaries with friends…
Hearty Minestrone with Tortellini and Mini-Meatballs
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Winter Minestrone
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 3/4 cup italian bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Good olive oil
- 2 cups cups chopped yellow onions
- 2 cups (1/2-inch-diced) carrots
- 2 cups (1/2-inch-diced) celery
- 2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch-diced) peeled butternut squash
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 (26-ounce) can or box diced tomatoes, such as Pomi
- 6 to 8 cups organic chicken stock
- 1 cup good dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen spinach
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 20-oz package tortellini of your choice, cooked according to package directions.
- Parmesan cheese, for serving.
Preheat oven to 350.
For the meatballs, place the ground beef, pork, bread crumbs, garlic, Parmesan, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine with your (clean) hands until the ingredients are mixed together thoroughly. Roll tiny meatballs – about an inch or less in size – and place them onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
For the soup, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, wine, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the meatballs, beans, spinach, and zucchini, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add the tortellini about five minutes before you plan to serve the soup. If you find the soup is too thick during the last few minutes of the cooking process, add a bit more chicken stock.
Serve with parmesan cheese.