It’s been cold and rainy and my children have had a tough month due to walking pneumonia so I decided to make a big pot of comforting and healthy soup. I usually use beef or turkey to make meatballs but I decided to try chicken this time. The meatballs were very sticky to work with but they tasted really good in the soup. Instead of using store bought broth, I made my own broth to make this soup as healthy as possible. I threw in spinach, carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes, and lots of garlic as well as some little pasta tubes. The soup was delicious, filling, and my entire family enjoyed it – the leftovers the following day were excellent too. You can serve this soup as is or top it with Parmesan or feta cheese.
Combine the ground chicken, egg, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, fresh parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper, to taste, and Italian seasoned panko crumbs together in a bowl until just combined. Roll into mini meatballs and place onto a plate (I filled up two plates full). Place the meatballs into the refrigerator for 10 minutes so they are easier to work with.
Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches, and cook for 4-5 minutes, carefully turning halfway through to cook on the other side, until golden brown but not cooked all the way through (they will finish cooking in the soup). Remove the cooked meatballs from the Dutch oven and place on a clean plate. Finish cooking the remaining meatballs.
Add the remaining tablespoon of canola oil to the same Dutch oven and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes then add the minced garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute then add the diced tomatoes and chicken broth, season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low for 30-40 minutes. Remove the lid and add the pasta and meatballs. Cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the meatballs are cooked through. Add the spinach, stir until combined and slightly wilted, taste and re-season if needed, then ladle into bowls. Top with Parmesan cheese or feta cheese if desired. Enjoy.