I’m really looking forward to spring-like temperatures around the corner but I’m going to shed a tear when it comes time to bid adieu to the slow cooker until next winter (not saying you can’t use the slow cooker all year round but I tend to use it more during the winter months).
I’m noticing another pattern too with my recipes on the blog – making all the plant-based versions of recipes I used to enjoy way back in the day before I stopped eating meat. Like my Vegetarian Buffalo Cauliflower Wing Dip that was a HUGE hit (oh, god I sound like Trump – HELP) for the Super Bowl this year and now this vegan version of Italian Wedding Soup.I have vague memories of eating Italian Wedding Soup as a kid but what I do remember is being psyched that there was pasta and meatballs in a bowl of soup! Speaking of pasta, this recipe calls for acini di pepe pasta and when I told my husband what kind of pasta we needed, he said “oh yeah, pee pee pasta.” Still learning things about my husband after oh, 14 years of knowing the guy.
I was reeeeeeeeallly satisfied with this recipe. It took two tests but I think we nailed it. Carnivore husband approved AND meat-eating friend who came over to watch the Oscars with us approved. So, there’s that. Did I mention that this soup is ultra satisfying? My mother recently called me the soup lady when I told her we were having this recipe for dinner (apparently she thinks we make a lot of soup…we do). But she doesn’t understand how we can just eat soup for dinner…which I always correct her that we’re having soup AND bread :). But when the soup you make is loaded with pasta, veggies and protein, it’s totally satiating. At least to my body it is.I made chickpea meatballs for this soup recipe – so easy to make in the food processor and then sautéed ’em to brown ’em and finished them off in the oven. Really delicious flavor with the dried basil and parsley and umami flavor from the vegan parm cheese. Coupled with the savory flavor of the soup, I could eat bowls on bowls on bowls of this.
So, before winter is over, bust out the slow cooker and make this soup! It’s comforting, satisfying and VEGAN!Print
For the soup:
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 cups vegetable broth
- 10 ounces baby spinach
- 1 cup acini di pepe pasta (or pastina/stars pasta)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Extra freshly ground black pepper and vegan parmesan cheese for serving
For the vegan “meatballs”:
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs + 2 tablespoons, divided (both panko and regular work fine)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the soup:
- In the slow cooker, add onion, celery, carrot, garlic and vegetable broth. Cook on low for 5 hours.
- With 20 minutes left in cooking time, stir in the baby spinach and pasta. After 20 minutes, turn off the slow cooker, add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve with vegan meatballs and freshly ground black pepper and vegan parmesan cheese.
For the vegan “meatballs”:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- To make a flax egg, stir flaxseed with water and let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes, or until thickened.
- In a food processor, add chickpeas, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, onion powder, garlic salt and flax egg. Pulse to combine.
- Mix 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
- Roll chickpea mixture into small balls (about 1 tablespoon mixture each) and roll in the breadcrumb/cheese to coat.
- In two batches, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Saute balls for 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
- Transfer sautéed balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve vegan meatballs on top of soup.