Winter is prime soup season, and there really is nothing better than the smell of a delicious soup simmering away on the stove. I love how cozy and comforting it is. And while I have my tried and true soups in heavy rotation at this time of year, I also love experimenting with new and different recipes. This Spanish Saffron Meatball Soup is one that I will most definitely be making again, and again, and again....
Spanish Saffron Meatball Soup is chock full of deliciousness. The Spanish flavors of smoked paprika and saffron make for a bold and complex broth. And the combination of homemade meatballs and orzo pasta make this soup so filling and satisfying.
At first this might sound like a complicated soup recipe, but it's actually quite simple. And making the meatballs from scratch only requires a few minutes, but they are so flavorful it will taste like you spent all day cooking.
What I really love about this Spanish Saffron Meatball Soup is that it is a hearty, well-rounded and complete meal...all served up in just a single bowl! It's a great way to make sure the kids are eating their veggies. And as a mom of 3, this is something I always appreciate.
Tips for Making Spanish Saffron Meatball Soup
- Make sure your meatballs are the same size so they will cook evenly and at an equal rate.
- Saffron really makes the dish, so please do not substitute it.
- To make this a gluten-free soup, use almond flour, rolled oats, or gluten-free breadcrumbs in the meatballs.
- Use as lean of a meat as possible. This recipe calls for ground beef, but ground turkey or chicken also work well.
What is Saffron?
Saffron is a spice unlike any other. The beautiful bright crimson appearance and distinctive flavor make it a wonderful addition to many dishes, especially soups, stews, rice and risotto. My favorite brand is Zaran Saffron.
It can be difficult to describe saffron's unique flavor and aroma. Some of the ways it is described include:
- floral but not sweet
- spicy and pungent
- warm and earthy
Because it is an extremely labor intensive, saffron is considered to be one of the world's most expensive spices. Saffron is harvested from the Crocus sativa flower. Each flower has three tiny, threadlike stigmas in the center that are removed by hand and carefully toasted to dry. It takes more than 80,000 crocus flowers to produce just one pound of saffron.
Luckily a little saffron goes a long way, with a typical recipe calling for anything from just a pinch to a teaspoon of crumbled saffron.
More Delicious Soup Recipes
If you love this Spanish Saffron Meatball Soup recipe as much as I do, you'll want to try my Thai Chicken Noodle Soup (made in the slow cooker!), this recipe for Healthy Creamy Vegetable Soup, and my Easy Homemade Tomato Basil Soup.
- ½ cup of Italian breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup of half and half or milk
- 1 pound of lean ground beef 97% lean 3% fat
- ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of crumbled saffron
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 cup of good quality drinking white wine
- 8 cups of chicken broth
- 1 cup of uncooked orzo
- 2 cups of chopped fresh kale stems removed
- salt and pepper to taste
- parsley or cilantro to garnish
In a medium bowl, add together all of the meatball ingredients. Mix together with your hands and form 2 teaspoon full balls, set the balls on a pan and refrigerate for half an hour or flash freeze for 10 minutes.
In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom and wide pot heat oil over medium high and add in onions and red bell peppers. Saute for 5 minutes, or until peppers and onions have softened. Next add in garlic, continue cooking for 30 seconds then add in paprika, saffron, and oregano. Cook for ten seconds more and then add in white wine.
Once the white wine has been added cook for 2 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon and mixing occasionally.
Add in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Next add in meatballs and lower heat to a steady simmer (medium high heat). Cook for about 20 minutes, then add in orzo and kale and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until orzo is al dente and the kale has softened.
Taste for seasoning and add in salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve and garnish with parsley.
Saffron really makes this dish, please do not substitute it. Depending on the size of the meatballs, it can make anywhere between 12-16 meatballs. Use as lean of a meat as possible, either beef or turkey.