Rustic Vegetable Soup with White Beans and Spicy Herbed Meatballs

Ingredients: ( serves about 8 )

Meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dry Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup milk
½ cup breadcrumbs (Panko breadcrumbs work best)

Soup:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup’s worth)
1 tablespoon dry Italian Seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups hot beef (or chicken) stock
1 (15 ounce) can small, white beans
3 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped to bite size
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 loaf crusty, rustic bread

Preparation:

-In a large bowl, gently combine all meatball ingredients with hands until well mixed through; roll into bite-sized meatballs, and set aside while beginning the soup.

-In a large soup pot set over medium heat, add the butter and the oil; once melted together, add the onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and fennel; stir gently and allow to sweat for about 3-4 minutes; next, add the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and minced garlic, and allow to become aromatic; once fragrant, add the hot beef (or chicken) stock to the pot, and gently stir to blend all ingredients; allow for soup to begin to simmer and gently bubble, and then begin adding the meatballs into the hot soup; once all are added, give a gentle stir to move the meatballs around a bit; next, add the white beans, and allow to simmer on medium-low with the lid slightly askew for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

-After 45 minutes, turn off heat from under soup; add the basil, parsley, kale, lemon juice and zest, and give a gentle stir to incorporate; allow soup to sit for 5-10 minutes.

-Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a generous sprinkling of the shaved Parmesan cheese and enjoy with a thick slice of the crusty bread.