Whenever I watch cooking shows that are creating quick meals and they use ten different pans and bowls, it drives me crazy. If the meal only took twenty minutes to pull together, that is awesome, but if the cleanup is twice as long as it took to make the meal then I will likely be ordering pizza if I’m in a tired weeknight time-crunch.
I have teamed up with the great crew from Mushrooms Canada and Ontario Beef to be part of ‘Blend and Extend’. Along with some fellow bloggers, we are creating recipes that combine the ever versatile ground beef with finely minced mushrooms. Of course, ground beef provides protein and other essential nutrients but when it is combined with the finely minced mushrooms you get extra nutrients. The mushrooms also provide extra flavour and moisture. If you prefer to use really lean ground beef you may notice that it can be a little tough. Adding the mushrooms really tenderizes it and with an extra dose of vitamins and minerals, it is a win-win.
It may seem like a lot of work to make a two-part recipe on a weeknight but this recipe is not heavy on the busy work. Cooking the meatballs in the oven on a foil lined pan allows you to get on with the soup part and cleanup is a so simple. Just drain the liquid and any excess fat off the foil and toss it in the recycling or garbage.
Most of the time with meatballs, you fry them off in a pan in batches. You get great flavour with the extra brown parts on the meatball and the shape tends to be more round without the flat spot that you will get by cooking them on a cookie sheet in the oven, but honestly, will you even notice that in a soup? I don’t really mind getting my kitchen dirty now and then but sometimes I just don’t want to deal with the grease splatters all over the stove.
To mince the mushrooms, I use my food processor and since it is out and dirty already, I use it to chop the onions and garlic. I use my food processor to chop all the veggies when I make my big batch of spaghetti sauce too. The food processor makes short work of chopping vegetables and the cleanup is simple since most food processors can go in the dishwasher.
This recipe was a hit with my four-year old. I haven’t really explained to him fully that there are mushrooms in the meatballs that he devoured, but I will eventually. I served his soup with the pieces of spinach picked out, because that was just a bridge too far for him. The up side is that since the fresh spinach cooked in the broth, some of the nutrients did transfer to the soup so I figure that is close enough. My husband, on the other hand, practically licked his bowl. He would have if I wasn’t there but we are working on his table manners. 😉
A hearty, flavourful, & healthy weeknight soup with mushrooms blended right into the meatballs.
- 450 g lean ground beef
- 200 g cremini or white button mushrooms, finely minced
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 900 ml low sodium beef broth
- 540 ml can stewed tomatoes with Italian seasoning (or diced tomatoes)
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- To make the meatballs, start by finely mincing the mushrooms using a food processor with the blade attachment.
- Combine the finely minced mushrooms with the ground beef, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Mince the onion and garlic, also using the food processor and add 1 tablespoon of that mixture to the meatball mixture.
- Line a cookie sheet with foil and shape tablespoon and a half size meatballs with your hands or a cookie scoop and place them on the cookie sheet. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until brown and release from the foil easily when you try to lift them off with a spatula.
- While the meatballs cook in the oven, add the olive oil to a large saucepan over a medium heat and sautee the minced onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- When that has softened, after about 4-5 minutes, add the balsamic vinegar, beef broth, and stewed tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up using the spoon so that they are bite-sized pieces.
- Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer while the meatballs cook in the oven.
- When the meatballs are cooked, transfer them to the pot and stir gently. Let them simmer together for 10 minutes.
- Just before serving, add the two cups of fresh baby spinach. If you like, serve with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.