Meatball & Pasta Soup

Original Recipe HERE
The original recipe called for premade, cheese-filled tortellini.  I wasn't in the mood for adding something additional to my kids' bowls that would've required, so I went with doesn't-even-need-to-be-chewed orzo (ditalini would work, too).  I'm sure the stuffed pasta would've made it heartier and added more flavor, though.

I doubled the amount of meatballs, and the flexibility in broth and water amounts are purely for ease of cooking and personal preference.

Also, the meatballs were tasty - but not amazing.  If you have a favorite meatball recipe, it could be substituted here.  I understand cooking them in the soup pot so additional flavor is added, but if you're feeling lazy, thawed precooked balls should work just fine (especially if still browned a bit).  More salt, pepper, or other seasoning would likely be needed to compensate, but that would cut out the bulk of the work involved in making this and turn it into an easy, fast dinner.  In which case I'd do a stuffed pasta...because...it seems like I should.
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
2 to 3 cloves garlic, pressed
salt & pepper
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4 to 6 cups broth
2 to 3 cups water
3 to 4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed [I used 10 oz frozen, thawed]
pasta [I used orzo]

(1) In a medium bowl, combine beef, Parmesan, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix until just combined.
(2) Form meat into 1" meatballs.  Set aside.
(3) Begin boiling water for pasta if cooking separately.  Cook pasta according to directions.
(3) In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add meatballs.  Cook, turning often, until browned (3 to 4 minutes).  Remove from pot.
(4) Add carrots, celery, and onion to pot.  Cook, stirring, until just softened.
(5) Add broth and water.  Bring to a boil.
(6) Return meatballs to pot (and add pasta if cooking in soup).  Simmer until meatballs are just cooked through (2 to 3 minute).
(7) Add spinach; simmer until wilted.
(8) Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

Kid Participation: None.

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