Before summer comes upon us in all her glory you should make this divine, cheap, veggie-filled comfort food.
P.S.I should note that the above pictures were taken the day after I made this. A lot of the saucy/soupy stuff got sucked into the noodles. The day I made it, I took pictures, but they didn't come out very well (nighttime lighting and all). Nevertheless, here's a picture to show what it looks like the first day.
prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
beef: 3.50, bread: .05, egg: .10, other stuff: .10, onion: .10. carrots: .20, Italian diced tomatoes: .70, tomato paste: .30, beef broth: .30 (from cubes), spinach: .35, pasta: .30
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
3/4-1 C bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp milk
1 egg (optional--once I forgot it and I actually thought these tasted even better, BUT they didn't hold together as well)
1 onion, finely chopped (or blended if you've got onion haters in your midst)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, diced (didn't have so skipped this and all was still well)
1 14-oz can Italian diced tomatoes
1/2 C plain, smooth tomato sauce, or 3 oz. tomato paste
5 C beef broth
2 C chopped spinach leaves
1 -1 1/2 C small pasta (such as ditalini)
salt and pepper if needed
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
a bit of cream for creaminess (optional)
Put everything into a bowl and smoosh it all together. Roll into balls and cook in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Note: If you don't have bread crumbs, put a crust in a small blender and blend.
When they're ready, take them out of the pot, but leave the grease (unless there's a crazy amount; then just leave some of the grease)
For the soup:
Put onion, zucchini, and carrot into this grease (add a bit of olive oil if you need some). Cook for a few minutes until they begin to get tender. Add Italian seasoning and stire. Add either tomato sauce or tomato paste and stir for about 30 seconds. Add Italian diced tomatoes. Add beef broth. Stir everything together. Bring to boiling. Add pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes or until they're close to al dente (we used a thick pasta so this took longer than a thinner pasta would have). Add more water if necessary.
When the pasta is almost cooked, add the meatballs back in and add the chopped spinach.
Cook for 4-5 more minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings. You might want a bit more salt or basil or Italian seasoning.
Serve alone or add some Parmesan or cream.