Monday, January 14, 2013

Meatball Soup with Pasta

Early Spanish settlers were among the first to bring pasta to America.

Believe it or not, it was Thomas Jefferson that helped give pasta an initial push into popularity. During an extended stay in Paris from 1784-1789, Jefferson ate what he called macaroni… back then, the word could have referred to any shape of pasta. He enjoyed the dish so much that he returned to America with two cases in tow. When his supply ran out, he sent for reinforcements via a friend from Naples.

During the late 19th century, when a large group of immigrants relocated from Italy to America (most from Naples), pasta became a common food in the states. We have been making spaghetti in America ever since.

Today, pasta is generally cooked by boiling the dough. The first evidence of pasta being boiled comes from the Jerusalem Talmud. The Talmud includes a discussion on whether or not boiled dough should be considered unleavened bread under Jewish law. Pasta was likely boiled before the Talmud was written, but this is the first text reference to the cooking method.

Here in America, we are most familiar with dried pastas imported from Italy. Dried pasta is usually made from semolina, or purified durum wheat. Semolina isn’t overly absorbent, which makes for great al dente style pasta. It also has a long shelf life, unlike fresh pasta.

Pasta is, for all intents and purposes, a comfort food. One of its most comforting qualities is how little it has changed over the centuries. It is still made with the same essential ingredients and preparations that it has been since antiquity. When we eat pasta, we can be assured of the likelihood that our ancestors, and our ancestor’s ancestors, ate something similar. Pasta, with its long, multicultural history, is a culinary connection to our past.

Meatballs aren't just for sub sandwich or spaghetti. Add meatballs to broth and you have a tasty soup.

Meatball Soup with Pasta
Copyright 2013, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cups beef broth
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
1 (15 oz.) can mixed vegetables, drained
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

To make meatballs: In a bowl, combine ground beef, egg, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Shape into small balls.

In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Lightly brown meatballs. Remove meatballs to a plate. Now add beef broth to the pot with the tasty brown bits. Then add water, onions, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, elbow macaroni and meatballs. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add mixed vegetables. Simmer another 15 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve with crusty bread or a sandwich. Enjoy!


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