This is one of my Totally Trader Joe’s recipes. I was chatting with some friends the other day and we were discussing our cooking habits. All of us shop at Trader Joe’s and love trying to bring together different Trader Joe’s products into new, tasty combinations. This recipe takes my Simple Chicken Soup recipe and by adding three Trader Joe’s products, transforms the soup into a savory, soulful meatball minestrone. This is great on a rainy day, is very easy to pull together and can be made with the same products from a different vendor if you aren’t a Trader Joe’s shopper. [Trader Joe's Disclaimer: In case you worry about such things, I don't work for Trader Joe's, I'm not related to anyone who does and they've never given me a nickel, let alone any free food. Despite their lack of largesse, I continue to be a devoted shopper and I do occasionally try to think creatively about how one might use their products - since it's clear to me I'm not the only one who likes to shop there].
Savory, Soulful Meatball Minestrone
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
- 4 half chicken breasts with bones and skin
- 1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
- 1 ½ cups celery, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 leeks, well cleaned and chopped (white part only)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 32-oz boxes chicken broth (preferably organic)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 packets chicken flavor liquid concentrate OR 3 cubes chicken bouillon
- 1 6.7-oz jar prepared basil pesto (Trader Giotto’s Pesto alla Genovese)
- 1 25-oz jar marinara sauce (Trader Giotto’s Organic Marinara Sauce)
- 1 12-oz package chicken meatballs, cut in half or quarters (Trader Joe’s Gourmet Chicken Meatballs with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Basil and Provolone or frozen meatballs or you’re own homemade meatballs work just as well)
Heat grapeseed or olive oil in large soup pot. Add chicken breasts and brown on medium/high heat, about three minutes per side. They should be golden. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Turn heat down to medium and add celery, carrots, onions, leeks and butter to pot. Brown the vegetables until they are soft, about 10-12 minutes.
Add three boxes of chicken broth and the wine to the softened vegetables. Turn heat up to high and bring broth to a boil. Immediately turn down to a simmer and add the chicken breasts and any accumulated liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Remove chicken breasts from pot and allow them to rest on a cutting board. Taste the soup. Most of the time I think the flavor is too mild. Add chicken concentrate or bouillon. You could also add butter, but I try to keep that to a minimum.
Pull the chicken off of the bone and chop into cubes. Add chicken cubes back to the pot. The chicken should be just cooked through. If it still has pink spots, don’t worry, it will finish cooking when you add it back to the pot. Add the pesto, the marinara sauce and the meatballs. Simmer until the meatballs are heated through.
Adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste (it won’t need much, if any). Serve or allow to cool and freeze.