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Minestrone with Meatballs

Minestrone means "big soup" in Italian. The hearty soup has many ingredients that fills up your belly and keeps you warm on a cold winter night. I like making minestrone because it's easy and tasty. I like my minestrone made from assortment of vegetables, meatballs and hardy pasta. 
In this recipe below, I've included a special blend of meatballs (modified from FoodNetwork.com). Instead of regular bread crumbs, I substituted it with panko, Japanese flaky bread crumbs. Enjoy!
Meatballs
Yields 20 balls
Ingredients:
0.5 cup panko bread crumbs, 0.25 cup milk, 2 lbs ground beef (90% lean meat and 10% fat), 1 medium size onion- finely chopped, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 egg and 1 tbs dried parsley leaves. Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Procedures:
1. Soak bread crumbs in milk and set aside
2. In a large bowl, add ground beef, chopped onion, olive oil, parsley leaves and egg. Blend well. Season with salt and pepper
3. Incorporate soaked panko in the mixture
4. In a small bowl with water, wet fingers to avoid mixture sticking. Scoop 1 tablespoon of mixture and shape it into a ball. Set aside. Repeat with the rest of mixture while occasionally wetting fingers
5. Heat a large skillet and lightly coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil. Add meatballs into the skillet, making sure there is some distance between the balls to avoid sticking. Do not overload the skillet. Fry each side of the balls for ~2 minutes until cooked through
6. Remove meatballs onto paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve in marinara sauce or add in minestrone
Minestrone with Meatballs
Ingredients:
10 cups of low sodium chicken broth, 2 medium size onions- sliced, 4 cloves of garlic- minced, 2 carrots- slices, 5 leaves of cabbage- shredded, 10 green beans- chopped, 3 tomatoes- sliced, 1 cup of tomato puree, 1 can cannellini beans- drained and washed, 1 tbs dried parsley, 0.5 tbs dried oregano, 0.5 tbs basil, 2 bay leaves, 2 cups of dried small shell pasta, 1 cup frozen peas and 20 cooked meatballs. Salt and ground black pepper to taste. Cheese optional

Procedures:
1. Bring 10 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add onion, garlic, carrot, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, tomato puree and dried herbs. Stir and lower heat to medium. Cook for 15 mins or until vegetables are tender
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in dried small shell pasta and cannellini beans. Let it cook for 10 mins or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally
3. Add peas and meatballs and mix well
4. Season with salt and pepper. Skim any fat that is floating 
5. Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese  and pair the soup up with a nice warm crusty slice of bread
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