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5 from 4 votes

Chunky Tomato "Meatball" Soup

Don’t get me STARTED on this recipe. It’s potentially the tastiest thing I’ve ever made. The meatballs are soft, with a nice bounce and a delicious punch of umami. The soup is packed with flavour like you wouldn’t believe and the croutons are just the cherry on top.
Servings: 4


For the Soup

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic crushed and chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tins peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 450 ml vegetable stock

For the Meatballs

  • 50 g dried shiitake mushrooms rehydrated in boiling water for 20 mins - reserve the water
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooked shredded beetroot
  • 7 tbsp shiitake soaking water
  • 50 g Vital wheat gluten
  • 50 g gram flour
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp old bay just use a mixture of celery powder, garlic powder and onion powder if you can’t find it
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • good grind of black pepper
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough
  • small bunch fresh oregano


Make the Soup

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and bring to temperature. Once hot, add the onion and fry gently for a minute until turning translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a further few minutes. Add the tomato puree, stir and then add the remaining soup ingredients. Stir to combine then bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, using a potato masher, make sure all the tomatoes are nicely crushed. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until thick and juicy!

Make the Meatballs

  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and top with a bamboo steamer.
  • In the cup of a high-speed blender, add the rehydrated shiitakes, onion, garlic, soy sauce, beetroot and shiitake soaking water. Blitz in the blender but do not puree. It should resemble a chunky tapenade. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, measure out the remaining ingredients. Mix in the wet, blended ingredients with a spatula until it all forms one big ball of “dough”. Tip out onto the work surface and knead for a good five minutes. The “dough” should be pretty wet - much wetter than ordinary meatball mix.
  • Form the “dough” into meatballs of your desired size (I went for walnut sized ones). Wrap each ball in a small square of greaseproof paper and twist at the top to keep it tight. Place the meatballs into the steamer for 25 minutes.
  • Once steamed, remove the meatballs from the steamer and carefully remove the greaseproof paper. The meatballs should be soft but nicely bouncy to the touch.
  • Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add some olive oil. Fry the meatballs, stirring gently and often until nicely browned. Tip the meatballs onto a plate lined with kitchen towel.
  • Throw the chunks of sourdough into the meatball pan (which should still have some oil in and season with salt and pepper. Place over medium heat and toss regularly until nicely browned.
  • Serve a few good ladles of soup in a bowl. Top with a few meatballs, some croutons, a small bunch of torn fresh oregano and a drizzle of olive oil.