Monday, December 31, 2012

Meatball Noodle Soup and Italian Bread

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year is to make soup and bread on Sundays. While I realize it is not technically the New Year yet, yesterday was Sunday and I was itching to do this one right away. I raided my cabinets, pantry, and freezer and this is what I came up with. It's cheap, filling, and it makes a ton - just the way I like it!

Meatball Noodle Soup
Makes 8 servings

What I use:
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tbsp. beef bouillon granules (or 9 cubes)
  • 1/3 c. dried minced onion
  • 1 14.5oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 12oz. box tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 12oz. bag frozen baby spinach
  • 48 mini meatballs
How I do it:

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, bring the water to a boil.

2. Add the Italian seasoning, beef bouillon, minced onion, tomatoes, and pasta.

3. Bring back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add the meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Add the spinach and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve with hot Italian bread. I made my own (with just a few tweaks) using "Nonni's Italian Bread" recipe from the cookbook The Artisan Bread Machine by Judith Fertig.

Crusty outside, chewy inside, everything an Italian loaf should be.
Totally missing sesame seeds, but I didn't have any.
I have since added them to my grocery list,
so as to avoid this tragedy in the future.

Nonni's Italian Bread
from The Artisan Bread Machine
by Judith Fertig

What I used:
  • 1 tsp. salt (the recipe calls for fine sea salt, but I only had coarse, so I just used regular)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1c. lukewarm water (between 86 and 95 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (the recipe calls for bread flour but I didn't have any)
  • 1 tsp. instant or bread machine yeast (I used instant)

How I did it:

1. Add the salt, egg, water, and oil to the bread pan of the bread machine.

2. Spoon the flour on top of the liquids.

3. Make a well in the top of the flour and add the yeast.

4. Select the Dough cycle and press start.

5. When the dough cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a floured surface and punch down gently.

6. Form into an 11-inch oblong loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (After making 700 cookies for Christmas, I was fresh out of parchment so I used foil sprayed with cooking spray and it worked like a charm.)

7. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes. (My dough used to never rise in my drafty cold kitchen until I started to do it this way - When the dough is almost done in the machine, I start a small pot of water on the stove. I turn my oven on the lowest temp for 5 minutes, then I turn it off and leave the door open while I punch and shape the dough. Then I let the dough rise in the oven next to the pot of hot water with the door closed. Beautiful rise every single time.)

8. After 30 minutes, take the dough out of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack and place the other rack in the middle. (Two ovens would be so nice right about now.)

9. Using a serrated knife, cut 3 deep diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf.

10. Brush the loaf with 1 Tbsp. milk and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, pressing the seeds into the dough.

11. Add two cups hot water to the broiler pan (I just used a casserole dish) and place the bread in the oven on the middle rack.

12. Bake for 28 to 34 minutes, or until the bread is risen and browned on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190 degrees F.

13. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

If the bread seems a little chewy because you cut into while it was still too hot, you can throw the slices into the oven directly on the rack for 2 to 3 minutes to help it crisp up a bit and dry out. Use to soak up the yummy broth from the soup. Smile.

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