Nana Recipe Wednesday–Meatball Soup

by Sarah on March 24, 2010

Ok. Look at this picture. I know it’s not the best angle or anything, but really. I’m wearing a trucker hat. I’ve got no idea why. Probably because it’s 1975, that’s why. And Nana’s looking stylish in her green and white zebra-stripey wrap dress. I actually had this wrap dress for a long time because I wanted to alter it so I could wear it, but I never did. Now it’s lost. WAAA.  Next to us is my cousin Pam, who I haven’t seen in about a million years, but hopefully this summer I’ll see her at the reunion.

What does this have to do with soup, you say? Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all.

Now, I believe this recipe is one that Nana adapted from a pamphlet I found—“Pasta With a Flair”—written by the folks at the Golden Grain Pasta company.

Here’s the stuff you need.  I got all those little chicken stock cans from the “reduced for quick sale” bin at the grocery store.  Don’t make fun of a bargain.

First we need to prepare the bread to put in the meatballs.  Rip up a piece of white bread–a nice sturdy white bread, not Wonder.  I think I had some buttermilk sandwich bread I used.  Put it in a bowl and pour over some milk.

Let it soak up the liquid, then squeeze it out.

Then just break it up into tiny pieces.

In a medium bowl, mix up the rest of the meatball ingredients:  The ground beef, an egg, parsley, salt, pepper and some Parmesan cheese.

Mix together thoroughly, but try not to over mix it, the meatballs will become tough.

Roll meatballs between your palms, and keep them on the small side.  About an inch in diameter.

Set them aside until they are all rolled.

My recipe made about 30 meatballs.

I wasn’t thinking correctly, but I fried these in a frying pan.  You should be smarter than me and fry these in batches in your Dutch oven–or whatever you’re making the soup in.  You just want to brown up the outside–the insides will be raw.

After the meatballs are done, add in some chopped onion and carrot.

When the onions are softened, add in the chicken broth.

Bring the liquid to a boil.  Add back the meatballs so they can cook through.

Next up is a box of pasta.  Small pasta, I don’t care what shape you use.

Now, let’s season it up.  A big handful of chopped parsley, some red chile flakes and some salt and pepper.

It needed something else.  It looked awfully beige…..what’s in the fridge?  Nothin’.  What’s in the yard?  CHARD!

Rinsed it off and into the pot.

And that’s it, simple as can be.

But very, very satisfying.

Nana's Meatball Soup


  • For Meatballs:
  • 1 piece white bread
  • milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • For Soup:
  • 8 cups chicken broth ( I used 6 or 7 small cans)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups dry small pasta (bow ties or shells)
  • salt, pepper and red chile flakes, to taste
  • 2 cups chopped chard or kale (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish


  • For meatballs: Tear the white bread up into pieces and put into a bowl. Pour milk over and let soak for a minute. Squeeze out the milk and tear the soaked bread into tiny pieces. In a medium bowl, add the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly. Do not overmix, or the meatballs could become tough. In a Dutch oven, heat a Tbsp of oil and fry the meatballs in batches just until the outsides are browned. The insides will be raw. Set the meatballs aside when they are browned.
  • In the same pot, add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are softened. Season with salt. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add back the meatballs so they can finish cooking. You can also add the pasta at this time. When the pasta is just short of al dente, add the herbs and spices and the chard, and cook another minute. When the pasta is cooked through, the soup is done.

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