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Chicken Meatball Soup With Penne And Chard Recipe

chicken penne soup on table
chicken penne soup on table - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

The best recipes are those that combine our two favorite things: pasta and soup. While we might have an entire shelf dedicated to pasta, one beloved box of tube-shaped noodles remains a staple. Penne is the perfect pasta to turn to for easy dinners — it can be thrown into thick vodka sauces or baked into cheesy casseroles. In this recipe written with Michelle McGlinn, penne is transformed once again into a delicious main ingredient, this time in a brothy soup.

Reminiscent of Italian wedding soup, this recipe features soft and flavorful chicken meatballs and a savory chicken-based broth. Instead of the micro-sized acini de pepe, this soup features penne, leaning more into a chicken-noodle vibe. Leafy Swiss chard is swirled in as the soup is simmering, giving it a savory balance to the bright lemony broth. This soup is perfect year-round, being both cozy enough for cold winter nights and light enough for hot summer days. And though the miniature meatballs might sound daunting, the process of making them goes by fast — just pop on your favorite TV show and roll away.

Read more: 44 Types Of Pasta And When You Should Be Using Them

Gather The Ingredients For Chicken Meatball Soup With Penne And Chard

ingredients on a table
ingredients on a table - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

The ingredient list for this recipe is made up of many pantry staples that you may already have on hand, such as olive oil, salt, pepper, egg, onion, and garlic. You'll also need breadcrumbs, lemon, chicken broth, and Parmesan. If your store doesn't sell Parmesan rinds separately, simply buy a small block of Parmesan with the rind attached and slice the thick rind away to use in the soup. This way, you can use the remaining Parmesan to grate into the meatballs and shave a cheesy garnish. From there, you'll just need ground chicken, dried parsley, penne pasta, and Swiss chard. If you can't find Swiss chard, simply swap for another leafy green like kale, collards, or spinach.

Step 1: Heat Up The Oven

preheating oven to 350
preheating oven to 350 - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Step 2: Combine The Meatball Ingredients

meatball ingredients in bowl
meatball ingredients in bowl - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Add the chicken, grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to a large bowl.

Step 3: Mix Well

chicken mixture in bowl
chicken mixture in bowl - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Use your hands to mix ingredients together until well-combined.

Step 4: Roll Into Mini Meatballs

chicken meatballs on sheet tray
chicken meatballs on sheet tray - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Roll the mixture into ½-inch balls and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Step 6: Bake

baked meatballs on sheet tray
baked meatballs on sheet tray - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned, then remove from oven and set aside.

Step 7: Heat Oil In A Pot

heating oil in a pot
heating oil in a pot - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

In the meantime, heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Step 8: Soften The Aromatics

cooking onion in pot
cooking onion in pot - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Add the onion and garlic and stir until softened.

Step 9: Add Lemon

adding lemon to pot
adding lemon to pot - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Add the lemon juice and stir until absorbed.

Step 10: Add The Broth And Parmesan

broth and parmesan in pot
broth and parmesan in pot - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Add the chicken broth, Parmesan rind, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Step 11: Cook The Pasta

cooked penne in soup
cooked penne in soup - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Stir in the penne pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

Step 12: Add The Meatballs

meatballs added to soup
meatballs added to soup - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Remove the Parmesan rind and add the meatballs.

Step 13: Stir In The Chard

swiss chard in soup
swiss chard in soup - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Add Swiss chard to the soup and stir until chard is bright green and wilted.

Step 14: Serve

pot of soup with pepper flakes
pot of soup with pepper flakes - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

To serve, top with extra grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Do I Have To Bake The Meatballs In Chicken Meatball Soup?

chicken meatballs in soup
chicken meatballs in soup - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Meatballs are a fun and impressive addition to soups and pastas, but we can admit that making them can be tedious and time-consuming, too. It's easy to want to shortcut the recipe by simply throwing the meatballs directly into the soup to cook with the pasta instead of baking them first. Technically, you could do this, but you might not like the results. Boiled meatballs don't brown and remain very soft — so soft they risk falling apart, especially if you have a strong rolling boil.

To avoid this, we recommend baking the meatballs first to ensure they become firm before adding to the broth. If you want to avoid turning on the oven (or are trying to make this truly one-pot), you can also sear the meatballs in the pot before starting the soup. While this takes a bit longer (since you can't multitask), you can achieve an even better brown color on the meatballs, which will add a deep flavor to the broth. The verdict? No, you don't strictly have to bake the meatballs, but it's a faster, better option than it may initially seem.

How Do I Store Leftover Chicken Meatball Soup?

bowl of chicken meatball soup
bowl of chicken meatball soup - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Soups are notoriously pretty easy to store and even freeze, but pasta-based soups can be an exception. Pasta continues to absorb the liquid even after cooking, and can start to break down when being stored, becoming mushy in the broth. Because you can't take the pasta out of the soup, we recommend storing the cooled soup in airtight containers and adding broth as needed when you are ready to reheat. For the best results, store for three to four days.

This soup can be frozen, but to freeze, we recommend boiling the pasta separately and storing in two separate containers or bags to avoid mushy penne. Even though the soup can't be frozen fully assembled, it's worth freezing — the meatballs freeze well and make a much easier meal later on, when you don't have to start from scratch. To freeze the pasta, cook it separately, toss with olive oil, spread on a sheet tray to cool, and store in zip-top bags until ready to use. When ready to eat, gently heat the soup on the stove and simply add the frozen pasta once simmering.

Chicken Meatball Soup With Penne And Chard Recipe

bowl of chicken meatball soup
bowl of chicken meatball soup - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Prep Time: 15mCook Time: 45mYield: 4 ServingsIngredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken

  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley

  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided

  • 2 teaspoons pepper, divided

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • Juice from ½ lemon

  • 10 cups chicken broth or water

  • 1 (2-inch) Parmesan rind

  • ½ pound penne pasta

  • 1 head Swiss chard, stems removes and leaves torn into 1-inch pieces

Optional Ingredients

  • Red pepper flakes, for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  2. Add the chicken, grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to a large bowl.

  3. Use your hands to mix ingredients together until well-combined.

  4. Roll the mixture into ½-inch balls and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned, then remove from oven and set aside.

  6. In the meantime, heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

  7. Add the onion and garlic and stir until softened.

  8. Add the lemon juice and stir until absorbed.

  9. Add the chicken broth, Parmesan rind, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

  10. Stir in the penne pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

  11. Remove the Parmesan rind and add the meatballs.

  12. Add Swiss chard to the soup and stir until chard is bright green and wilted.

  13. To serve, top with extra grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Read the original article on Tasting Table