A veggie-packed dinner that the whole family loves, cooked in one pot and served in 20? Oh yes, with requests for seconds that follow. Dairy-free Nut-free Egg-free | Gluten-free Option
I first shared this recipe on Kidspot as part of my #Voicesof2014 Food and Wellbeing finalist challenge, but given I’ve been flat out mad this past week, I thought I’d share it with you as well. It’s quite fitting.
We all wish we had extra time to look after ourselves, our families, spend more time with the kids, run errands, complete that project at work before a looming deadline, not to mention attend to a growing inbox of emails. There are times, especially during the week, when putting a healthy dinner on the table without slaving away in the kitchen for hours is a tough ask.
The takeaway seems like such an appealing option… Believe me when I say I have those days, too. So, when I’m stuck for the time between school pick-ups, homework and various after-school activities, I use shortcuts and make this soup.
Reason 1: One pot
One pot means less washing up and I know who likes this fact most. That there is a win in itself, don’t you think?
Reason 2: Kids love meatballs.
It’s a fact. Better still, if you have little ones who are old enough to help out in the kitchen, get them involved. Being part of the process will have them more excited about the food they are about to eat and will speed up the process. Definitely a tick.
Reason 3: The freezer IS your best speedy meal friend.
Frozen veggies are my best speedy meal friend. They provide almost instant gratification when you don’t have the time to peel, chop, trim and slice. I chuck them into mixed pasta dishes, quick stir-fries and soups.
They are one of the very few convenience foods that are actually really good for you. Snap frozen fresh, they are nutritious and taste great. Nowadays you can even get organic varieties that are quite affordable, too.
Add a handful of baby spinach and there you have it, meat and five veg with the goodness of broth, in one pot and no time at all.
About those noodles
While I like to add soba (buckwheat and wheat Japanese noodles) to this dish for extra nutrients and bargaining power at the table, you could use any variety of pasta, including some great gluten-free options, but opt for something thin that cooks in around 3 minutes.
For this particular soup, I like to use mixed broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and carrots. You can, of course, add corn, peas – tailor the veggies to what you love. Baby spinach or bok choy are great for boosting leafy green intake.
We all eat a little differently in our family, so when it comes to adding pasta to this soup I tend to opt for Japanese soba noodles which are made partly from buckwheat flour or a gluten-free variety because it agrees with us all.
You can also add canned beans or chickpeas to bulk out the soup. Because the meatballs are poached gently in the soup, you can make them with 100% meat, avoiding various padding like flours, starches and thickeners added to store-bought meatballs. Pork and chicken mince work best here.
Speedy One Pot Vegetable and Meatball Soup (with Soba noodles)
For the Meatballs:
- 500 g chicken or pork mince
For the Soup:
- 1 litre stock of choice
- 3 cups mixed frozen veggies (I like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots)
- 90 g soba noodles or small pasta (angel hair spaghetti, alphabet), gluten-free if you prefer
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
Other things you could add:
- 1 small can red kidney beans
- 1 small can chickpeas
To make the Meat Balls:
- Divide mince into 12 even portions. Squish and roll each portion in your hands into a tight ball. Set aside for a minute while you prepare the soup (on the benchtop is fine but if it’s really hot, place them back in the fridge).
To make the Soup:
- Place stock and veggies (and canned beans, if using) into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Gently pop in the meatballs. Bring the soup back to the boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for a further 8 minutes. Add pasta and cook for a further 3-4 minutes (if your pasta requires more cooking, add it earlier). Turn off the heat and add baby spinach. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve.