Pasta Soup with Little Meatballs

For the meatballs -
1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 lbs 90% lean ground beef
For the soup -
8 oz dry elbow macaroni (2 cups)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
fresh chopped basil


For the meatballs:  mash the bread and milk together in a large bowl.  Stir in the cheese, garlic, thyme, egg, salt and pepper.  add the meat and mix until combined.  With wet hands, form the mixture into 1-inch (or smaller if desired) meatballs.

For the soup: In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the meatballs and cook about 5 minutes, turning halfway through.  The meatballs will not be cooked through.  Drain and set aside.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven.  Add the macaroni and cook, stirring often, until al dente.  Drain the macaroni, rinse under cold water, and set aside.  Wipe the pot dry.

Heat the oil in the now empty pot over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the the tomatoes and broth.  Add the meatballs (do not stir), bring to a simmer, and cook until the meatballs are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Stir the pasta into the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle individual portions with Parmesan and basil.  Enjoy!