Green Minestrone With Lime-Arugula Meatballs

March  7, 2021
12 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Sophie Strangio.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

Minestrone made with green vegetables (like beans, peas, and zucchini) tastes crisp and fresh. But it still should be a soup that warms the soul, so I’ve added tiny meatballs, brightened with arugula and lime, for that cozy, hearty feeling. It’s the German in me. I can’t help it.

From 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking & Baking © 2019 by Meike Peters. Photography © 2019 by Meike Peters. Published by Prestel. —Meike Peters | eat in my kitchen

What You'll Need
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Green Minestrone With Lime-Arugula Meatballs
  • 14 ounces (400g) ground beef
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed, plus 1 large clove garlic, cut in half
  • 2 ounces ounces (60g) arugula leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) freshly grated lime zest
  • Fine sea salt
  • Finely ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound (340g) trimmed mixed green vegetables (such as green beans, frozen peas, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or kale, cut into bite-size pieces if necessary)
  • 4 1/4 cups (1 liter) homemade or quality store-bought vegetable broth, hot
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 spring onion (green part only), thinly sliced
  1. Combine the ground beef, crushed garlic, arugula, lime zest, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a generous amount of pepper in a large bowl and mix with your hands until well combined. Form the mixture into 38 roughly 1-inch (2.5 cm) meatballs.
  2. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add a little more oil and the vegetables and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the hot vegetable broth, lime juice, and bay leaf, season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 4 to 6 minutes or until the meatballs are just cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lime juice.
  3. Divide the soup among deep bowls, sprinkle with the spring onion, and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

7 Reviews

rox L. June 14, 2023
Has anyone tried the meatballs using turkey or chicken? I thought with a light veg stock the lighter protein could be a winner. I'll definitely add breadcrumb & egg.
[email protected] April 16, 2023
Loved the idea of this soup but was disappointed by the result. I realize I am not a fan of vegetable broth and should have used chicken broth instead. The meatballs could have used bread crumbs and egg. The vegetables became overcooked. Usually love Food52 recipes but this one didn't come together for me.
besswww April 14, 2023
I liked this, fresh and springy. Agree with others that I would try some milk-soaked bread in the meatballs in the future, they are basically just tiny boiled hamburgers in this. I used thinly sliced brussel sprouts and frozen peas and did not feel they were overcooked, but could see that for more spring/summer greens.

Am a little confused why one would organize a recipe around 14 oz of ground beef. Most packets are a pound, right? I used the whole packet because what does one do with 2 oz of ground beef?
Peggy G. April 15, 2020
As a variation make and add the recipe for the following meatballs to this minestrone(without the tomato sauce):

Domenica Marchetti's Eggplant & Porcini "Meatballs" in Tomato Sauce

Jen February 20, 2020
Used venison in these and really enjoyed the flavor. I heeded the advice of others and added veggies later, but even so, I seem to have crossed the line where they were perfect for the first bowl, but have since cooked through in the hot broth in the leftovers.
So maybe aim to undercook the veg or use frozen peas at the very end to cool it off quickly.
Anna January 8, 2020
Great base for a soup - wasn’t sure about the lime but it just added a brightness to the soup, it didn’t make it limey. I did feel the meatballs needed work / so in a second batch added breadcrumbs, an egg, some Parmesan and a little homemade tomato sauce and blended in food processor, which gives a really smooth texture for soup meatballs. Also add some cooked cannellni beans for a little more protein and served with grated Parmesan on top. Really good, all ages loved it!
Korena V. December 31, 2019
This was quite delicious (great flavours) but I'd make a few tweaks next time: 1) The meatballs were a bit tough, so I would add some breadcrumbs (maybe soak in milk?) and an egg to the meatball mix to keep them tender. 2) The greens ended up slightly overcooked by the end, so I would remove the greens from the pot after sautéing them, add the broth and cook the meatballs, and then add the greens back in at the end. Also, I didn't have any arugula so I used parsley in the meatballs - probably missed a bit of the intended flavour but it still tasted very good!