Dinner without a plan or a recipe, in other words, dinner as so many people choose to live their lives. It’s a challenge to me. But that’s this week’s plan as I explained on Monday, and I’m doing my best to cook good food with both hands tied behind my back and my left eye closed. Or that’s the way it feels, anyway. I’m going to my fallback quick and dirty meals as each dinner hour approaches and I remember, oops, I have no plan.
And what happened on Monday was a soup. Chilly, dark evenings now that the clocks have been turned back (boo, hiss to the short days), and that drives me to thoughts of comfort food like soup. Since I picked up dried tortellini at Trader Joe’s and some fresh ground beef, if became tortellini and meatball soup. Maybe I should call it magic soup because I’m in awe of the expansive properties of those dried tortellini which started out the size of the nail on my pinky finger, and ended up the size of a bowling ball. Well, maybe not quite a bowling ball, but more like a quarter. Impressive.
Was it Louisa’s favorite dinner? Not really, she dislikes soup and tortellini. Was it Joe’s favorite dinner? Nope, the meatballs needed to be made smaller just like the little meatballs in the Progresso Chickarina soup. Don’t ask. But, you know what? I love tortellini, and those were some pretty tasty meatballs, so I’ll share my grandma-type recipe with you in case you too are a fan of tortellini and meatballs.
Saute 2 small sliced carrots, 2 sliced celery stalks, and 1 diced small onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about five minutes until the vegetables soften a little. Add six cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and lower to simmer.
In the meantime, in a large bowl mix 1 pound ground beef with 1 egg, 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup grated locatelli cheese, 1 teaspoon dry parsley, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few twists of a pepper mill. Form mixture into 16 meatballs as pictured in this photo, or smaller sized meatballs if your husband is particular about the size like mine was.
Set aside and add a 12-ounce package of dried cheese tortellini from Trader Joe’s to simmering soup and cook five minutes uncovered. Add meatballs to simmering soup and continue cooking another 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.