16 August 2012

Vegetable soup with meatballs

We're making the most of the end of winter here. Our first day of spring is 1 September, already the days are warming up but the nights are still cold. Soon they'll even out and we'll be looking for cool drinks and throwing open the windows. Tonight I wanted to make a nourishing soup, that didn't cost too much, and would serve us well for a few nights. We're going out to Bell again on Saturday so this soup will be sitting in the fridge awaiting our return. A soup like this is the perfect warming meal to quickly heat up after a full day's work.

It's a beef and vegetable soup with herb meatballs. It probably cost about ten dollars to make but it will feed the two of us until at least Saturday, with a two litre container in the freezer for a couple of meals next week. It's certainly economical, I hope it tastes as good as it looks. I will have tasted it before I post this blog so I'll give you my honest appraisal. UPDATE: Hanno said: "this is a very good soup", I loved it - it's got a good herb and vegetable taste and is not overpowered by the meat.

Start with a good beef stock that you can make with beef bones. I had some good marrow bones in the freezer so I used them. As they slowly simmer in their broth, the marrow oozes out and dissolves into the broth. It's one of the reasons it tastes so good and is so nourishing. I added the bones to a large stockpot of water with salt and pepper, half a teaspoon of paprika, onions, bay leaf and one cup of washed barley. That needs to come up to the boil and then to slowly simmer for about two hours.  Discard the bay leaf and bones and if you have chooks, give them to the chooks. They'll strip them bare and get a good boost of protein in the process. Make sure there are no pieces of fat or gristle floating in your soup.

Now choose your vegetables. If you're growing your own, pick them fresh and either slice, dice or grate whatever you have on hand. If you are cleaning out your fridge, slice, dice or grate whatever you want to use up. If you're buying vegetables especially for this soup, buy root vegetables - these are the traditional vegetables for winter soups. 

In our soup I've included onions, celery, swede (rutabaga), turnip, parsley, carrots and a small amount of garlic. I usually would have included parsnips but they're too expensive at the moment so they missed the boat. All the vegetables are prepared and sliced, then added to the soup. Cook the vegetables while you prepare the meatballs.

Next I add some meatballs. The inclusion of the meatballs gives the meat eaters their hit of protein while being a part of a meal that is mainly vegetables, barley and stock. If you have a family who don't like vegetable soup, or who say "where's the meat?" this version of an old favourite might get them interested.  To make the meatballs, finely chop one onion and some parsley, blitz two slices of stale bread to make breadcrumbs, add two eggs, salt and pepper and 500grams/ one pound of minced beef. With clean hands, mix all this together well and form into balls the size of a walnut.  They will cook in about ten minutes so when the vegetables are almost cooked, turn down the heat, add the meatballs and let the soup slowly cook for about 15 - 20 minutes.  When it's all cooked, taste for seasoning, you'll probably have to add more salt and pepper.

It certainly is nutritious and it will blend into your meal rotation as one of those cheaper meals that you can stretch out for days, or use for lunch the following day. I hope you enjoy it.


Just a little heads up for people living on the Sunshine Coast. We have our car serviced at the local Landsborough Mechanical. Hanno, who is a former mechanic himself, highly recommends this fellow who used to work in one of the big dealerships on the coast but bought his own smaller workshop here several years ago. His prices are excellent, he's honest and reliable an his customer service is better than most. He's definitely worth a try.  The phone number is 5494 1092.

BTW, he doesn't know I'm writing this and has not asked for any favours. I doubt he even knows I have a blog.

Hanno and I will be out at Bell for a workshop this Saturday from 9.30am till 3.00 pm. There are a couple of spots left if you want to come out for a great day in the country and see how to make buttermilk scones, yoghurt scones, five minute bread and olive oil soap. We'd love to meet you. The cost is $50 which includes the workshop, a delicious homemade morning tea and lunch.  Phone 07 4663 1184 to book a place.



  1. That soup sounds delicous. I often see on UK blogs (I live in the USA.) the addition of swede/rutabaga in recipes. I am not very familiar with this vegetable so I bought one to try. It was a devil to peel/chop! Is there a secret to this that I am unaware of? Your advice would be appreciated. Thank you for your lovely blog!

  2. As we eat soup every day for lunch I am always on the hunt for a good recipe so this will be tomorrows lunch. I feed 7 every lunch so it may only make one meal for us but along with the 5 minute bread I have rising overnight it will be a filling nutritious meal, thanks Rhonda!

  3. This soup looks delicious and definitely one to try - we are in summer here in Scotland but you would hardly guess it from the awful weather we are experiencing. Elizabeth

  4. Rebecca (Sydney)August 16, 2012 7:38 am

    Thanks for the info on the mechanic. I have forwarded the info to my parents who live in the Sunshine Coast and have had some not-so-good experiences with mechanics. I love your blog, it is such a wealth of information and inspiration. I always curl up with a cuppa in the morning and read your latest post, or browse the archives on the weekend. Thank you!

  5. I would love to do a workshop, this one sounds really good fun.....I buy a veal and a pork mince when I shop, and this streeeetches so far in our house too...meat balls for pasta sauce, mince for another pasta sauce, little meat balls for broth and noodles...sometimes a meat loaf or some patties to have with vegetables...I know mince has a bit of a stigma attached to it...but in our house its our basis for many a frugal feast! I have a lovely bowl of bread dough ready to go into the oven, I tried wholemeal flour last night, so I will see how that turns out today...I tell you what, that cast iron dutch oven is getting a work out in our home! Its the best bread I have ever made and I am spreading the word! Have a great day Rhonda....Suzanne

  6. Great minds think alike, Rhonda!! I have just sat down after putting on a beef and barley soup in the crock pot. It is almost exactly the same as yours, except I use gravy beef instead of the meat balls. I lashed out and put a parsnip in, even though it was a hideous price. I also add quite a bit of celery, leaves and all, finely diced.

    We have family coming to stay for a couple of days, but I am off volunteering at a local eisteddfod this afternoon so I have the soup on and a loaf of wholemeal bread in the bread maker on delay. By the time I get home and the family arrives, I should have a beautiful warming meal with no fuss.

    What a beautiful day it is here today!


  7. This soup gives me an idea. I make veggie soup all the time but I haven't put meatballs in it before. I have to leave out the barley because I'm diabetic and cannot tolerate much in the way of carbohydrates. I use some almond meal in place of the breadcrumbs in meatballs.
    I leave out the parsnip too no matter if they are cheap or not, parsnip is very high in carbohydrate.

    If anyone has some low carb suggestions that would be excellent.

  8. g'day

    that soup looks very delicious rhonda, thanx for the recipe :)) have a safe trip &
    enjoy your time at bell this weekend too

    selina from kilkivan qld

  9. Your soup look delicious :) Best wishes for a fantastic workshop at Bell - wish I could attend!

  10. Hi Rhonda, I just wanted to say that the soup looks delicious and I will definitely give it a go. I also would like to add that I much prefer the layout of your blog since you have had a tinker with it ...it's so much nicer to be able to read a whole article, rather than having to do the 'click' thing x

  11. Wow that soup looks nice. We are about to enter Autumn here in the UK so soup will be on the menu moe and more during the colder months. I will definately give this a try. Thank you

  12. I love your cheap quick family meal blogs. I'm 27 and with a young family I need help. We can all find 1000's of 'fancy' meal ideas but the basic sometimes get lost. Thank you

  13. Thank You for sharing your economical soup recipe..Our nights here in MI (USA) will be cooling off and this soup will hit the spot on those cool nights..

  14. Dear Rhonda,
    Your blog never ceases to inspire me just when I am feeling uninspired!! I have been reading your blog for about 10 months now & since then I have started little changes as you have suggested. We now use our own home made washing liquid, cold pressed olive oil soap, citrus & vinegar household cleaner & I have not long made my first batch of calendula balm from our own home grown calendulas. We are getting more serious about our vegie garden & I have been menu planning, which as a stay at home mum with two small & very busy children has made meal times a lot less of a struggle. Thankyou for your continued updates about your homemaking & I look forward to many more. The soup looks great so it might be on this weeks menu plan!
    Kind regards,
    Amie NSW

  15. I made this soup for my family for dinner tonight - beautiful! We'll get another meal out of it: $10 to feed a family of 4, twice! Thanks Rhonda.


  16. Also from Michigan. Made the soup tonight -- 10 rating from the husband! Really like the meatballs. Have made hamburger soup before, but the texture lacks and I don't care for stringy roast beef in soup. Was hoping for a cooler day, but it was 89 today.

    A funny note, I had to use potato instead of the rutabaga (beggy). The store had them, but the clerk couldn't ring it up correctly. She insisted it was a radish.

  17. Rhonda, do you still do workshops?? I'd love to go to one even if I have to travel to it.
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Anna, I'm doing one at Nambour next week but they're booked out. I'll be doing some north of Brisbane in September and I'll advertise them on the blog.


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