If you’ve only recently started stopping by Baked by Rachel, you might think I have an obsession with using Italian sausage in my cooking. I swear that isn’t true at all. I’ve only made three dishes previous to this that included sausage. Italian sausage pie, ziti and pizza. All were seriously pretty awesome. Check them out if you missed them. The pizza and ziti were part of a split batch of meat, not totally planned. It just worked out. Unlike those, this was planned and tweaked as I went along.
I came across the recipe one night bouncing around doing searches for soup ideas to make over the winter. It caught my eye because of it’s simplicity but it also reminded me so much of the Italian wedding soup I made last year. (*absolutely DO check that out and make it. It’s incredible.) This is definitely not Italian wedding soup. Let’s be clear about that. It’s similar but totally different. The meatball ingredients are completely different for starters, the other has more veggies, this has tomato paste, etc. But I knew this would be a winner with what similarities they do have. It does take some prep work but I promise it’s totally worth it. You can even do the prep work a day ahead! Prepare the meatballs on day 1, chill overnight and prepare the soup the next day. It’ll feel less labor intensive that way. The actual soup part is a piece of cake.
Many recipes I feel can be altered to your liking, change up the meats etc but when it comes to the soups – take them as they are. I promise if you like the ingredients, you’ll love this soup. It’s hearty and a mix of healthy and sinful. I guess it kind of sits somewhere in the middle.
Cook Time: 2.5 - 4.5 hours
Total Time: 3 - 5 hours
1lb ground Italian sausage (I used extra hot)
1/2C seasoned bread crumbs
1/4C Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
6C chicken broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2C mini pasta (I used Ditalini)
10 oz baby spinach
Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine meatball ingredients. Pinch off a small portion of the mixture to create 1 inch meatballs. Roll in your hands, then transfer to your baking sheet. Meatballs can sit close together, just not touching. Continue process. If preparing meatballs ahead; cover baking sheet with plastic wrap to store overnight in the fridge.
When ready to proceed, bake meatballs at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Add chicken broth, tomato paste, garlic, seasonings and meatballs to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours. Add pasta and spinach, cook 30 minutes more.
Divide among bowls. Enjoy.
Can be easily frozen. Label container well with contents.
Adapted from Disney Family Recipes