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ABC Meatball Soup

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Tasty Kitchen Blog: ABC Meatball Soup. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

One of my dreams is to write a children’s cookbook. One that doesn’t promote sneaking brussels sprouts in brownies or spending an hour carving a bunny rabbit out of an apple. Not that I don’t think it’s cute, but I just don’t have an hour to play with an exacto knife on my vegetables and fruit.

So how do I get my kids to eat vegetables? Most of the time it’s easy, as long as the vegetable is a “not-tomato.” And I’ll confess that one of my tricks is to cut the vegetables so small that it’s too much of a bother for them to pick them out one by one.

You see, my kids are hungry and impatient just like me, and I sure know how to work it.

With a soup like this, my kids are so preoccupied with spelling silly words like “poopypants” and “gyarwk” (Nathan doesn’t quite know how to spell yet) that they really don’t notice or mind the vegetables.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: ABC Meatball Soup. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

These meatballs are made out of ground turkey, and are shaped into teensy tiny-sized “boulders,” perfect for kiddy mouths.

My assistant, Shelisa, whipped together this soup for my kids while I was frantically arranging and rearranging Japanese mushrooms for a client photoshoot.

Here’s the recipe for the ABC Meatball Soup.

How do you get your kids to eat and enjoy their vegetables?


Printable Recipe

ABC Meatball Soup

See post on steamykitchen’s site!
4.50 Mitt(s) 2 Rating(s)2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 52 votes, average: 4.50 out of 52 votes, average: 4.50 out of 52 votes, average: 4.50 out of 52 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5

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Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 4


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Combining fun, the chance to spell silly words, and vegetables cut so small that it’s too much work to pick them out, this soup is one of the ways I get my kids to eat and enjoy their vegetables.


  • ½ pounds Dry ABC-shaped Pasta
  • 4 ounces, weight Fresh Baby Spinach, Chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • _____
  • ½ pounds Ground Turkey
  • ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cups Breadcrumbs
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ¼ teaspoons Poultry Seasoning
  • _____
  • 1 whole Carrot, Diced
  • 1 stalk Celery, Diced
  • ½ whole Bell Pepper, Diced
  • ½ whole Small Onion, Diced
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Coriander
  • 2 cups Prepared Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
  • 2 cups Water

Preparation Instructions

There are a couple of tricks here. Sauté your vegetables first before adding the broth so that you get a nice mellow, sweet caramelization going on with the vegetables. Also, cook your pasta separate from the soup, and then combine them at the end just before serving. Dry pasta releases flavorless starch (which is why your pasta water is cloudy), and you don’t want that in your precious soup.

1. In a large bowl, combine the meatball ingredients and roll into three-quarter inch meatballs.

2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat with just half of the olive oil. When hot, add the meatballs, not touching. Cook the meatballs until browned on all sides, about two minutes. You don’t have to cook the meatballs through, as you will be adding them back into the soup to finish cooking. Scoop out the meatballs and set aside.

3. Pour in the remaining olive oil, and when hot, add the diced carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion. Sauté until the vegetables have softened, about two minutes. Season with the ground cumin and ground coriander. Give it a good stir. Pour in the chicken broth and water. Add the meatballs back in. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.

4. In the meantime, boil a pot of water and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

5. When the soup is ready, taste and season the soup with salt to your liking. Stir in the chopped spinach and the cooked pasta. Simmer for an additional 2 minutes and serve.


Jaden Hair is a food writer, television personality, and food photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Find more of her recipes in her blog, Steamy Kitchen, where you can also read more about Jaden’s new book, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, and the rave reviews it’s received!



Comments are closed for this recipe.

Susan on 4.27.2010

So yummy. My kids call this “kid wedding soup” (because it’s a lot like Italian wedding soup recipes I’ve made in the past). Another winner! Thanks!

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josieinnm on 3.13.2010

I made this for dinner tonight along with some garlic cheese toasts.It was delicious. Thankyou for sharing the recipe.

Anna on 3.11.2010

We recently found alphabet pasta at an online shop, They have a nice selection of pastas. I have a “grown up kid” that I cooked for and they could make a toddler look like an adventurous eater. I finally realized that as long as I did not make a big deal out of new veggie additions they at least would try what I was serving.

Nina C on 3.9.2010

I know he won’t eat tomato. anything. not even dipping fries in ketchup. but he’ll eat broccoli – those gross little corns that I don’t even know if they are vegetables (vegetarian chow mein) and green beans. and sometimes others. I just keep giving them to him and he eats them and when all else fails – v8 fusion – a full serving of fruits and veggies in one glass.

Nicole on 3.6.2010

I don’t totally like the idea of being sneaky with veggies (putting pureed spinach in a brownie, stuff like that), unless I’m up front about it. I add fruits and veggies to almost every dish, but I don’t lie about it. I also serve the veggies on their own because kids have to learn to eat them without being hidden in things. If you are persistent enough, the kids will eat what you serve them; you also have to be respectful of their individual tastes. If I’ve tried a certain food several times and it’s still “yucky” I don’t force it on them; afterall, I hate eggplant and wouldn’t want it forced down my throat.

Sue on 3.5.2010

Where do I find the results of the winners for the contests? Specifically those this past Wednesday,3/3/10? Thanks for any help given.

Rosita on 3.5.2010

We have never had a hard time getting our boys to eat vegetables. The oldest’s (5) favorite is broccoli, the middle’s (3) favorite is okra and the youngest (14 months) is currently into peas, although they all eat just about anything. We find the trick is not overcooking and using either fresh or frozen produce – they will not eat canned.

Sorry to hear about your struggle Heidi. Don’t have advice, but do have lots of sympathy.

Heidi on 3.5.2010

Finely diced veggies? Tried it.
Grown a garden? Been there.
Have them help cook? The oldest, yes. (other 2 too young)
Led by example (we LOVE veggies)? Every day.
Hide them in other things? They avoid the whole thing.

Any other suggestions?! There are three of them and I can’t remember the last time any one ate a vegetable (one won’t even eat fruit.) Going crazy here! Help!

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cait on 3.5.2010

Gorgeous bowls!

shari on 3.5.2010

My kids will pretty much eat anything but will always eat whatever they get to help cook. If we are having something new, I make sure my oldest (4) is helping me in the kitchen. And of course my 2 year old mimics everything his older brother does, so they both at least try it. We love to cook together. My 4 year old has his own apron, stool, and safety knife (my safe cutter from pampered chef.) My 2 year old likes to stand on a chair and watch. I’ve started letting him help stir stuff. It is never too early to get them started in the kitchen. I just hope they continue to be interested as they get older and it doesn’t become a chore. :) Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait for us to try it.

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pattilouwho on 3.5.2010

my kids are really good about eating veggies – they LOVE spinach – and if something is new, our rule is that they just have to try a bite.

cocobean on 3.5.2010

My kiddo seems to prefer raw veggies to anything else. I think it’s the crunch. She’s never been one for sauces or dips either. She likes the shredded cabbage (and it works well with tex-mexy recipes and asian recipes), carrots, cucumbers, corn, snow peas… sometimes asparagus.

Zoedawn on 3.5.2010

I agree with RestrainedChaos…my daughter begs to eat veggies and I attribute that to having a garden as well as feeding them veggies before fruit when you start them on solids as a baby. Don”t introduce them to the sweet stuff first or of course they are going to like that better!

remouladesauce on 3.5.2010

How do you keep the abc’s from getting mushy in the leftovers? I made chicken soup with abc noodles last week and while the first night the soup was great, the next day the noodles were mush. Any suggestions?

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RestrainedChaos on 3.5.2010

The best recommendation I have about getting kids to eat vegetables is to have a garden. Something about seeing the process that creates the vegetables, and then having them constantly in the kitchen, helps encourage them to eat without you even having to say a word.
I credit the fact that my kids will eat (and like) veggies to the gardens we’ve had and keeping vegetables always in the home. You should hear my daughter begging for broccoli at the store. It’s rather embarrassing. ;)

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steamykitchen on 3.4.2010

@kaylabird – forgot where I got thos bowls– I think Ikea!

@courne21 thank you so much!

@carolinagirl – frying veggies ALWAYS works. esp potatoes (okay, so what if technically it’s not really a veg). in thin slices. like potato chips.

@cecedon oh no! someone MUST make GF abc noodles! if not, who do we all need to write to???

@Kimm- absolutely perfect for teachers!

Kimm Geria on 3.4.2010

This would be super cute to make for the teachers and staff at school. You know they love their ABC’s Thank you so much.

Margo/MS Hospitality on 3.4.2010

My sons are grown men and always ate their veggies. I found early on in thier little lives that if they had a hand in the making of supper… even just stirring the pot with their hand over my hand, they would eat whatever was in the pot because they “helped to make it!”
Love the alphabet soup and rock meatballs… perfect!

cecedon on 3.4.2010

the soup looks awesome. I do the same thing with the veggies, I cut them small and I add them to most all soups and tomato sauces.

I don’t get the benefit of using those abc noodles though, I have yet to find them gluten free, but they like rotini noodles just the same!

Sharon on 3.4.2010

This soup looks great. I love vegetable soup…but my crew is not crazy about it. But since hubby loves meatballs….might just have to try this recipe.

Married to an Aussie in OK on 3.4.2010

My kids have loved meatball soup from an early age, too. The best way I found to get them to eat vegetables, though, was to put them in a curry! Smother them in great-flavored sauce, and even my picky one would ask for more. Thankfully they now have a wider palate :)

gretchen on 3.4.2010

My kids favorite veggie was always artichokes …
go figure. I’m pretty sure it was the lemon butter they dipped the leaves in that was the key, but the younger daughter liked them so much she’d offer to clean them just so I would make them more often.

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carolinagirl on 3.4.2010

My kids (now 18 & 21) have always liked corn, green beans, peas and cooked carrots. I had to make cheese sauce for them to eat broccoli and then liked sauteed mushrooms of all things!! Thank goodness they grew out of that! It’s really funny that I tried to get them to eat my squash casserole (with tons of cheese of course!) and now that they’ve tried it (within the last year) they want it all the time!! Frying veggies works sometimes too!

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courtne21 on 3.4.2010

Love the recipe and the intro. I am now a Steamy Kitchen fan. :<} Thanks for sharing!

Jessica @ How Sweet on 3.4.2010

I hate veggies – so this soup looks like its for me!!

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Angie McGowan on 3.4.2010

My son will eat almost anything. The only thing we were having problems with was greens, kale, collards, mustard. We just got him eating kale though. Onto the other greens. I just bought the abc pasta, and wasn’t sure what to do with it. Thanks for the great recipe!

TLEE on 3.4.2010

i am still trying to get my kid to eat, period!

Emily on 3.4.2010

Thankfully, my kids (even my pickiest) love their vegetables. I think the best way to get your kids to love veggies is to serve them good quality veggies. Fresh or frozen are so much more tasty that the canned veggies. I don’t hide my veggies, but I do add them to every recipe (like added carrots, peppers, and tomatoes to a pasta sauce are always eaten in my house. My kids, since toddlerhood, also love to dip anything. So ranch dressing is always on hand.

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kaylabird on 3.4.2010

I want those bowls! Where are they from?

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lorelei on 3.4.2010

The soup looks delicious. My kids are pretty good at eating their vegetables (mostly) but it has taken years of training. I don’t typically like to “hide” their vegetables in their food because I want them to learn to eat their vegetables and like it. And I think for the most part, it has worked but along the way, I would also say that you would be surprised at the size of vegetables (namely onions, small dice) that they have picked out of stuff…like fried rice!

My kids don’t have a problem with tomato so sometimes it is easiest to give them some extra vegetables they normally wouldn’t eat chopped up in small pieces in a tomato sauce (like for spaghetti)…bell peppers, mushrooms, and yes, onions!