Meatball Tortellini Stew

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4 servings

If you have been clever enough to stash a container of meatballs in the fridge or freezer, this fully-loaded stew can be assembled and cooked in about half an hour. Otherwise, plan an extra half hour or so to roll and brown the meatballs.


  • 500 g lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil , or olive oil
  • 1 large onion , chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth , (preferably sodium-reduced)
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes , (with juice)
  • 1 540-mL can kidney beans , or chickpeas (with liquid)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano , crumbled
  • 2 medium carrots , diced
  • 2 stalks celery , diced
  • 350 g fresh cheese tortellini , (not the dried kind)
  • 1 284-g pkg fresh spinach , rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • salt , to taste
  • black pepper , to taste


  • Meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper. Squish together with a fork or (clean) bare hands until well mixed (no tasting until it’s cooked, kids!). Form into 1 in. (2 cm) meatballs, rolling them between your hands so they’re nice and round.
  • Place meatballs in one layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking. Remove from cookie sheet and use, immediately, in your favourite recipe, or pack into a container and refrigerate or freeze to use at another time.
  • The stew: In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat. Dump in the browned meatballs, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Throw in the tortellini and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Finally, add all the spinach, pushing it down into the pot and cook just until the spinach has wilted into the stew – about 2 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling at the table.