We really don’t look forward to winter but one thing we can enjoy about the seasonal change is that our menu changes with it. While barbecue and garden veggies get put on hold, soups, pasta, oven-roasted vegetables and baked dishes come into play.
A few years ago, I became the reluctant owner of a rice cooker (my husband’s idea) but I must say that I’ve grown to like it. I originally tried a recipe from the Aroma rice cooker booklet called Hearty Chicken & Mushroom Noodle Soup. We liked the veggies, seasonings, and especially the broth with a whole cup of sherry. But my husband wasn’t a huge fan of the stock-soaked chicken breast pieces and slurping the fettucine on a soup spoon was challenging.
I made the preparation of this recipe a whole lot easier on myself by substituting frozen appetizer-sized meatballs in place of chicken. And it’s less messy to eat when made with pasta that fits on your soup spoon such as ditalini or rotini.
- 1 quart stock
- 1 cup sherry
- 12 – 16 appetizer-sized frozen meatballs
- 6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 stalks of celery, or one stalk and tops from one bunch, chopped
- 2 carrots, or a handful of baby carrots, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 Tbs. dried parsley
- A few pinches of black pepper
- 8 oz. ditalini or rotini pasta (or about half of a box)
I use the slicing blade on my food processor to get even slices of carrots, celery, and onion. The carrots and celery stalks go down the chute, the onion is quartered and placed on the blade. The mushrooms look nicer if you slice them by hand. Making soup is a great opportunity to use the celery tops that I used to throw away. The chopped leafy bits add greenery to the presentation and taste good too.
Add all ingredients except for the pasta to the rice cooker. Frozen meatballs can be defrosted in the microwave for a minute or two before adding to the soup. Cook with the White Rice setting. If you prefer using a pot, cook on the stovetop at a low boil for about half an hour or until the carrots are tender.
Cook the pasta separately and al dente. Although you need about half of a one pound box to serve with the soup, I usually cook the entire box and use the rest for a different meal. (Ditalini makes a great macaroni and cheese.) Put a few spoonsful of pasta in a soup bowl and ladle over with soup.
Refrigerate leftover pasta and soup separately, as it keeps the pasta from getting soggy. Just mix them together when reheating.