Italian Wedding Soup with TVP Meatballs

Italian Wedding soup was always my favourite thing to order at East Side Mario’s (in another lifetime when I used to frequent this restaurant, lol). The challenge in making this soup was making the perfect vegan meatball as the meatballs are definately the ”hero of this soup.  I debated using lentils and soy-based ground round but in the end decided using Textured Vegetable Protein (otherwise known as TVP). Just a few months ago I recall chatting with a lady in front of me (in the grocery store line up) who happened to be a chef. I noticed she was buying six bags of TVP so I engaged her in a conversation…turns out that she recommends TVP as the best base ingredient for a veggie burger.

This is not a soup of the ‘quick and easy’ variety so I would definately make plans to try this recipe when you have some time on your hands. The TVP meatballs require the most prep time but it’s well worth it. The result is a vegan meatball with a crispy outer coating and a delicious filling that blends TVP, sautéed vegetables, savoury parmesan cheese and herbs. If you have leftovers these would pair well with our Vegan Savoury Spaghetti Sauce as a vegan-friendly spaghetti and meatballs dish.

Finding pearl/Israeli couscous was a feat (at least in this part of Vancouver) but I recommend using this pasta instead of substituting with another variety of pasta such as orzo. The chewy texture of these “big balls” was to the delight of the kids (even Janik and I) and spurred a discussion around other “big ball” recipes we can try out in our test kitchen. Challenge accepted…..

I would love to hear your feedback if you try out this soup recipe….enjoy~

Preparation

  • 1/Cook 2 cups pearl/Israeli couscous as directed. Drain and set aside.
  • 2/Prepare parmesan cheese (recipe below)
  • 3/Prepare TVP meatballs (recipe below)
  • 4/Prepare soup base and transfer soup from Thermomix mixing bowl to generic mixing bowl. Add cooked couscous to the soup. Top with a few TVP meatballs and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. 
    Note: Crumbled TVP meatballs, while they may not look pleasing to the eye, taste just as good as round TVP meatballs so use any “ugly” ones too! 

Parmesan Cheese  
Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cashews, raw (110g)
  • 1 tsp hemp seeds, raw and unshelled
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice, fresh

 Instructions

  • 1/Place cashews and hemp seeds in the Thermomix mixing bowl. Grind 7 sec/Speed 7.Note: Be careful not to overgrind.
  • 2/Add salt and garlic powder to the TM bowl. Using the Turbo setting (1.0 sec) pulse twice.
  • 3/Add lemon juice to the TM bowl. Using the Turbo setting( 0.5 sec) plus three times.Transfer the prepared cheese to a small mixing bowl; set aside.

TVP Meatballs
Ingredients

  • 1 cup Textured Soy/Vegetable Protein (known as TVP or TSP)
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 7/8 cup boiling water
    Note: Double the above ingredients for this recipe. 
  • 1/3 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 1 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (recipe above)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
  • 1/2 tsp basil, dried
  • 1/2 tsp parsley, dried

Vegetable Mixture:

  •  1 leek, coarsely chopped (65g)
  • 1 medium onion, halved (130g)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled (10g)
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped (80g)
  • Italian parsley leaves, fresh (5g)
  • Olive oil (10g)

Coating:

  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil (for frying)

Instructions

  • 1/Place Textured Soy Protein and bouillon powder in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling water to the bowl and allow TVP to hydrate for 10 minutes. Note: 1 cup dry TVP yields 2 cups cooked TVP. 
  • 2/Add all Vegetable Mixture ingredients (leek through parsley) to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 7 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • 3/Add oil to the TM bowl. Sauté the mixture 3 mins/120C/Speed 1; Once sautéed, set aside.
  • 4/Once the TVP is hydrated transfer the sautéed vegetable mixture from your Thermomix mixing bowl to the standard mixing bowl containing cooked TVP.  Add all-purpose flour, tapioca flour, parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, basil and parsley to the cooked TVP mixture. Stir to combine. Refrigerate TVP mixture for at least 30 minutes.
  • 5/Add the Panko and parmesan cheese to a shallow dish. Once the TVP mixture is chilled, roll the mixture into 1″ balls. Coat each ball in the Pano-parmesan mixture so it’s ready for frying.
  • 6/Fry each ball in a preheated skilled with a small amount of olive oil (Note of caution: Gently drizzle the skillet with olive oil…too much will result in soggy results!)  Be sure to turn each ball around to cook all sides until crispy and golden brown. Note: Arm yourself with patience on this step….the balls are pretty fragile so I would recommend using tongs (if you have them) to turn the balls around gently. Once cooked, place each ball on a paper towel-covered plate to soak up any excess oil. 
  • 7/If time allows, once the TVP meatballs are fried bake them at 375F for approx. 10-12 minutes. This last step will keep the balls crispy.

Soup Base 
Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, halved (85g)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled (5g)
  • Italian parsley, fresh (10g)
  • Olive oil (20g)
  • Carrots, coarsely chopped (115g)
  • Celery, coarsely chopped (75g)
  • Spinach leaves, fresh (20g)
  • Water (1000g)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable bouillon powder

Instructions

  • 1/Add onion, garlic and parsley to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • 2/Add oil to the TM bowl. Sauté 3 mins/120C/Speed 1.
  • 3/Add carrots, celery and spinach to TM bowl. Chop 7 sec/Speed 7. 
  • 4/Add water and vegetable bouillon powder to TM bowl. Cook 10 mins/100C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade).

 

Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance, however it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. mutli-function processor, immersion blender etc) or using a more traditional stovetop method.

Product Recommendation

  • The Wizard’s Organic Gluten Free-Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

 



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About Meagan Lamontagne