12-16 ozprecooked mini meatballs (usually found in the frozen case)
½cuporzo or small ditalini
1bunchfresh spinach or chard
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish
V8 or tomato juice as needed, for reheating
Thaw the meatballs, if you’re using frozen (I use the microwave). If they are tiny meatballs, leave them whole; otherwise, cut them in halves or quarters, so that they are bite-sized. Chop the onion into fine dice (you’ll have about 1 cup). Peel and dice the carrots (you’ll have about 2 cups). Mince the garlic or push it through a garlic press. Wash the spinach and shake it dry, then chop it roughly.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the stock, water, and tomatoes with their liquid. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the Italian seasoning blend, the orzo and the meatballs (if they are large, cut them in half or quarters) and stir frequently for a minute or two, so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the spinach and let it wilt. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of Parmesan or Romano cheese.
TO MAKE AHEAD
While the soup is very nice served immediately, it’s even better after the flavors have had time to meld. My advice? Put this soup together while you’re making something else for supper – it’s easy, no problem – then let it cool, and stick it in the refrigerator for tomorrow or even the next day. You’ll have an amazingly wonderful soup you just need to heat and eat. If the orzo has thickened the soup too much, which it can sometimes do, just add some V8 or tomato juice to bring it back to your ideal soup-like texture.