No longer will I bake meatballs for 20-30 minutes and then wash nasty cookie sheets for 15 minutes.
Nope, thanks to my favorite soup book, Ladled by Kimberly Harris (of The Nourishing Gourmet), I learned that I can cook meatballs IN MY SOUP in 5 minutes with no drippy, baked-on meaty pan messes. Woo hoo!
This soup recipe, the last one in the Nourishing Soup Series for this fall, is so versatile, so kid-friendly, and so easy, you’ll just love it. It uses ground beef and beef broth, but you can just as easily swap those for ground chicken (or turkey) and chicken stock and have a totally different meal.
Easy, Kid-Friendly Soup: High in Protein, Immunity Boosting Broth and Green Veggies
My kids have this soup in thermoses for school lunch today, and last night dinner was met with cheers of, “Yay, meatball soup! I love this one!”
I love serving soup at least once a week because I know the immunity-boosting bone broth is important, especially this time of year; it’s easy to make a huge batch and have leftovers or stock the freezer; and it gives me simple prep as flexible preparation.
And this particular one? In a world where I spend wayyyyy too much time in the kitchen preparing each meal, a 20-30 minute prep is a godsend. Dinner: accomplished!
Note: Ingredients often use affiliate links to Amazon, but obviously you should shop for the best price and try to keep your dollars local when you can.
- 1 Tbs. safe cooking oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed, or ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ of a leek, sliced
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 2 quarts (8 c.) beef stock
- 2½ tsp. salt (if using homemade stock only)
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 4 c. shredded or spiralized zucchini
- 2-4 c. packed chopped kale or spinach
- for meatballs:
- 1 lb. ground beef (try ButcherBox for grassfed beef, delivered!)
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ c. breadcrumbs*
- 1 egg or 1 Tbs. ground flax seed in 3 Tbs. warm water (optional, not necessary)
- *Options for breadcrumbs: You can make homemade bread crumbs following directions HERE, use purchased breadcrumbs (watch the ingredients), go grain-free with almond flour/meal, or try grinding up “buckwheaties.” (Learn how to make gluten-free buckwheaties at the bottom of this chicken nugget post.)
- Crush the garlic and let it sit on the cutting board for maximum nutrition.
- In a large pot, saute the leeks in the oil over medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add the garlic and carrots for one minute.
- Pour in the stock, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for about 5 minutes to give the carrots a head start on the meatballs, which only take 5 minutes.
- Prep the meatballs:
- Mix together all the meatball ingredients well (be sure to take off your wedding rings) and then roll into 1-inch balls. One pound of meat makes about 20-25 meatballs.
- Lower the meatballs into the stock, add the zucchini, and get it boiling again. After about 5 minutes of cooking time, you can add in the chopped greens (any green is fine) and allow them to wilt for 3-4 minutes before serving hot.
* Add a bit of fresh basil or a dollop of pesto on top.
* Provide mustard for the meatballs. My kids just love mustard, and it's really pretty decent right in the soup.
* Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.
* Chicken or turkey meatballs and chicken broth is excellent with this soup.
* Zucchini problems? You can omit it entirely, sub it out for a finely diced or shredded potato or ½ c. rice, use diced zukes instead, or even double it. Flexible soup!
* Feel free to change out the leek for an onion if you don't have leeks, but be ready for more zing with a white onion.
* Make a double batch of meatballs while you're at it. If you don't want a double batch of soup, you can bake the meatballs using the instructions HERE, freeze them in a bag individually and have a super quick meal on hand for “one of those days.”
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered. And their best deal EVER is happening right now – you’re sooooo lucky!
(free shipping too!) **Deal ends July 8, hurry!!
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
I’ve uploaded the meatball soup into Plan to Eat. They even have a “cooking view” so you don’t have to worry about touching your screen while cooking – it puts the whole recipe on one screen and suppresses your screen saver. Genius. Here’s the meatball soup recipe so you can pop it right into your planner.
Check out the rest of the Nourishing Soup Series:
- Steak Fajita Soup
- Garlic Leek Soup with Egg
- Cheeseburger Soup
- Dilly Cream of Potato/Vegetable
- Salsa Soup