One Pot Wonder: Spaghetti & Meatball Soup!
A healthy, filling meal the whole family will love? Check. Ready in a flash? Check. Requires minimal dishes and cleanup? Check. Trust us—spaghetti and meatball soup (yes, we said soup!) is going to be the next star player on your busy-weeknight dinner rotation. It has the same yummy, comforting, and kid-friendly appeal as the classic sauce-topped spaghetti and meatballs, but lightened up and more nutritious (full recipe below). You can use packaged beef, pork, turkey, or vegetarian mini meatballs—find them in the freezer section or, if you have a little extra time, make your own.
Are you sold? Ready, set, mangia!
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but they quickly come together in a single pot for a meal that goes from stove to table in less than 30 minutes—just bake the meatballs while you prep the veggies and get the soup base started. Look for low-sodium broth and whole-wheat noodles rather than the regular white ones—mixed up with the saucy broth, cheese, and meatballs, chances are your kiddo won’t be able to tell the difference.
Does your kid run for the hills at the mere sight of spinach? Feel free to change up the veggies—we also like roasted cauliflower florets, bell peppers, mushrooms, and eggplant.
In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, and saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods—like the whole wheat noodles and veggies in spaghetti and meatball soup. Sure, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead, but also lots of smiles.
To serve this soup family-style, transfer it from the hot pot to a large serving bowl or tureen. Invite your children to ladle out their own bowl of goodness and top it with grated Parmesan and basil.
Chock-full of fiber, protein, and essential vitamins, spaghetti and meatball soup makes a great meal all on its own—take the leftovers to work for a tasty, filling, healthy, and easy-to-reheat lunch! For an even heartier dinner spread, serve with frosty glasses of milk, a loaf of rustic wheat bread, and a green salad or fresh fruit. With the noodles and small pieces of soft veggies, it’s even a good go-to for older babies (10–12 months)—just chop the meatballs into smaller pieces.
SPAGHETTI & MEATBALL SOUP
Yields: 6–10 servings
Time: 20–30 minutes
- 1 pound mini meatballs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, shredded
- 1 small zucchini, shredded
- ½ medium onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken, beef, or veggie broth
- 3 cups (24 ounces) marinara sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or ½ teaspoon dried oregano and ½ teaspoon dried basil)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or angel hair noodles, broken into 1½-inch pieces
- ½ pound baby spinach
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Cook the meatballs according to directions; set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and heat on medium until the oil is shimmery and flows like water. Add the carrots, zucchini, onion, and garlic, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook the veggies until they soften and just begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the broth, marinara sauce, 2 cups of water, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder to the pot. Stir it all together and bring to a boil.
- Add the noodles and meatballs to the pot and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the spaghetti is just tender, about 9–12 minutes.
- Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the spinach and continue to cook the soup for 1 minute until the spinach is wilted.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan and basil. Enjoy!