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20 Apr

Tomato Soup with Spicy Mini-Meatballs

Tomato Soup with Meatballs

A bowl of tomato soup is delicious any time of year, for lunch or for dinner, for kids and adults. If fresh, super-ripe tomatoes aren’t available then this recipe for tomato soup made from canned tomatoes is the best one to follow. This homemade tomato soup has a rich, pure tomato flavor and silky texture. Like a much-improved version of Campbell’s.

A steaming bowl of tomato soup is one of life’s simple pleasures. The fact that this recipe is so easy to make with such great results is an added bonus. The soup turns out best with whole tomatoes (not chopped) because they have a flavor that’s most similar to fresh tomatoes. The quality of the canned tomatoes matters – choose a brand with a flavor you like and if you’re worried about BPA, stick with jarred or a BPA-free brand.

Served alone, this tomato soup makes a super-quick meal. But if you want to spice things up, drop a handful of spicy, mini-meatballs into the bowl, too. These delicious bite-sized mini meatballs are small enough to eat with a spoon (or by the handful).

This recipe makes a lot of tiny meatballs, close to 80, so you can cut the recipe in half if you like. But if you’re going to spend the time making meatballs, it makes sense to go all out. Extra meatballs can be frozen raw or cooked. Raw, frozen meatballs can cooked by dropping them directly into simmering sauce or soup. Cooked, frozen meatballs are best if frozen along with some soup or sauce, but can also be frozen alone and defrosted in the refrigerator.

Serves: 4 generous servings

Time in the Kitchen: Tomato Soup, 35 minutes. Meatballs, 1 hour.

Tomato Soup


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (30 ml)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes with juice (800 g)
  • 1 1/4 cups water (300 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano (15 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2.5 ml)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves (60 ml)


Warm the olive oil in a wide pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes to soften the onions. Keep an eye on the garlic so it doesn’t burn.

Add tomatoes with their juice, water, oregano and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Tomato Soup

In two separate batches, pour the tomatoes and liquid into a blender and add the basil. Puree until very smooth. A high-powered blender will puree the soup so it has the same thin, silky texture of canned tomato soup. However, if the texture isn’t smooth enough for you, then strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.

Add salt and pepper and additional fresh basil to taste.

Spicy Mini Meatballs


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped (or 1/2 an onion, finely chopped)
  • 1 pound ground beef (450 g)
  • 1 pound ground pork (450 g)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (30 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (60 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (10 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (5 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (10 ml)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • Coconut oil, to brown meatballs


Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, keeping an eye on the garlic so it doesn’t burn.

Scrap the shallots, garlic and olive oil into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground meat, fresh herbs, salt and both types of pepper. Combine the ingredients with your hands.

Meatballs Step 1

Pour the eggs into the meat and knead the meat well to completely combine the egg. You can add a third egg if desired, but if the meat seems really wet then skip the third egg.

Refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes. This helps the meat absorb the egg and become less wet.

Preheat the oven to 375 ºF (190 ºC)

Use a measuring teaspoon to scoop individual teaspoons of meat in rows on a sheet pan. Once the meat is all measured out, lightly oil your hands and roll and pat/shape each scoop of meat into a tiny meatball.


Tip: The easiest way to roll the meatball is to place the meat in the palm of one hand and use the three middle fingers of the other hand to roll it. If the meat begins to stick to your hand, wipe your palm clean with a paper towel then start rolling again.

Heat an oven-proof skillet with a little bit of coconut oil over medium heat. Add as many meatballs as will fit in the pan and brown for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking the meatballs, 5 to 7 minutes.


Or, transfer the browned meatballs to a sheet pan to bake and use the skillet to brown another batch.

Tip: The meatballs can be cooked entirely in the oven (without browning them in a pan first) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper but they tend to ooze out a little moisture and don’t look as nice.

Tomato Soup with Meatballs

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’ve been looking for a tomato soup recipe to replace the Campbell’s soup my kids love. They would adore the tiny meatballs, too. Thanks so much for this one.

    Beccolina wrote on April 20th, 2013
  2. Ah. Tomato soup. It has been ages since we have been eating that. Thanks for the inspiration. The family will love it!

    Karin wrote on April 20th, 2013
  3. Sounds good, although, being lazy, I would probably only form the meat into meatballs for special events.

    Harry Mossman wrote on April 20th, 2013
  4. Tip for soup lovers — an immersion blender is your best friend.

    tb wrote on April 20th, 2013
    • +1

      Karen wrote on April 20th, 2013
  5. I use more or less the same meatball recipe for a different soup, but I simplify it a bit for prep.

    I pre-heat sheet pans in the oven to 350, take them out, spray them with coconut oil, quickly arrange meatballs and return to the oven. They’re done in about 10-15 minutes, brown nicely at least on the bottoms, and take a LOT less time with a LOT less clean-up.

    Yep – pan frying is tastier, but my way is a close second and saves a lot of time and effort.

    The other recipe I make is sort of an Italian Wedding Soup. If I feel like cheating, I’ll add about 1/2 cup grated Peccorino Romano (Locatelli brand if you can get it) to the meatballs before mixing. I use the same ratio of beef to pork, but have been known to use more shallot and to add some dried oregano. (I’ve also used finely grated carrot to lighten the meatballs – it works and they don’t taste carrot-ey.)

    For the soup, I just use a couple of quarts of good, homemade chicken stock and simmer with the cooked meatballs for a few minutes. Then I add two bunches of stemmed, chiffonnaded kale and simmer until tender. If I have fresh oregano, I’ll chiffonade a bit (1/2 tsp or so) and add it at the very last second.

    Again, If I’m allowing myself dairy, I’ll top with some grated Peccorino Romano. (Yeah, you could use Parmaggiano Reggiano, but I prefer the Southern Italian cheese.)

    LarryB wrote on April 20th, 2013
    • This brings up a question I’ve been wondering about since I went Paleo! How do you spray coconut oil????? I have a sprayer that I use for olive oil but coconut oil is solid in my pantry. Do you heat it?

      I’m an oven-ccoking fan for roasted peppers, tomatoes, kale chips & on & on, but I’ve been stuck on the olive oil despite its oxidation issues…

      Paleo-curious wrote on April 20th, 2013
      • Trader joes has a spray can with coconut oil. Giving it a try this week.

        Ian wrote on April 20th, 2013
        • Wow, thanks! Never thought to look there. It’s on my shopping list! :-)

          Paleo-curious wrote on April 20th, 2013
      • Trader Joes carries a coconut oil spray now for $2.99

        RJ wrote on April 21st, 2013
  6. What about a good replacement idea for the grilled cheese sandwich wedges that seem so crucial to accompany the tomato soup?

    david snow wrote on April 20th, 2013
    • Good question, I don’t really like tomato soup without something else to go with it. Sure the meatballs are yummy, but it just doesn’t give the same feeling for me.

      Brandi wrote on April 20th, 2013
    • What about Brazilian cheese puffs? –

      Entirely dependant on whether or not you choose to eat tapioca flour/starch, but I find they do the trick well when you’re craving something bread-ish – especially when sliced in half through the middle and fried in butter so the cheese crisps .. mm!

      getmiles wrote on April 22nd, 2013
  7. Aren’t canned tomatoes really bad for you??

    Claire wrote on April 20th, 2013
    • You just want to stay away from the cans with BPA. It is just that depending on the quality of tomatoes out of season its not a path towards tasty soup.

      leslie wrote on April 21st, 2013
  8. I’m tempted to try the soup recipe using coconut milk instead of water. Guess I should try mixing a small cup with coconut milk and tomato juice first to see how they blend.

    Stan the Man wrote on April 20th, 2013
  9. Looks delicious!

    A recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup above…can be doubled or tripled…freezes well and oh, so delicious!

    Cheryl wrote on April 20th, 2013
  10. Excellent recipe from a health perspective. The ingredients work very well together and the outcome of course is delicious. The Meatballs are spicy but not too spicy, just enough to blend in with the Tomato. The Basil and Oregano gave it a nice overall balance as well as a nice even flavor. And the Onion of course (my favorite) brings it all together. Great recipe!
    Highly recommended!!!!

    The Healthy Arizonan
    Eat Healthy, Live Healthy, Live Long

    The Healthy Arizonan wrote on April 20th, 2013
  11. Just made a veggie soup the other day and wanted meat balls in it… ran out of time, so I spread the meat-mixture thinly on a piece of baking paper (just like for the meazza!), put in a 240C hot oven for 10 minutes. Then cut the meat in little squares and put them in the soup ~ wow, that saved a lot of time. I don’t think I’ll ever roll meatballs again.

    Irma wrote on April 21st, 2013
  12. Great recipe! It tempted my husband to suggest it for dinner, recipe was easy and dinner was loved by all of us. Husband and daughter had bread, but I loved it in my weirdo way, straight with no bread! They both think this diet and exercise kick I’m on is strange, but I’ve lost 4kg and feel better than ever before. This recipe will become a family staple! Thanks mark.

    HB wrote on April 21st, 2013
  13. Have not even thought of trying this considering I’ve had spaghetti meatballs plenty of times. Sounds great from a healthy perspective. Will sure give this one a go, thanks for sharing!

    Jessica wrote on April 21st, 2013
  14. Sounds tasty! I’m going to try it but I don’t put eggs in meatballs anymore because I don’t think they need it. BP (before paleo) I’d add eggs because the meatballs because they needed the extra protein to hold em together after adding tons of breadcrumbs. Now I just use meat and spices and the meatballs come out fine.

    Mike wrote on April 21st, 2013
  15. Dear Mark,

    Not necessarily in this post, but I have noticed in the past that you will recommend from time to time throwing something in the microwave. I have heard and read that microwaving changes the molecular composition of our food and can introduce unnecessary radiation. What is your stance on this?

    Thank you!

    Mandy wrote on April 21st, 2013
    • +1

      Threw out my microwave years ago, having heard the radiation causes mutations in proteins and destroys phytonutrients. Have since heard conflicting info on this. I’m perfectly content not ever owning one, but would like a definitive answer either way to inform loved ones.


      John wrote on April 21st, 2013
      • Microwaves are also a waste of space, and they tend to cook and defrost very unevenly. Get an electric pressure cooker – a much better tool in the primal kitchen!

        Jen H. wrote on May 1st, 2013
  16. I love tomato soup. I used to have it for dinner

    Marlyn wrote on April 21st, 2013
  17. No pork or shallots on hand so I used 2lb ground beef and scallions.. very tasty!

    Sharon T wrote on April 21st, 2013
  18. Thanks for the recipe, Mark! I was inspired to make a similar soup with pork, olive, organic diced tomato, chicken stock, curry powder and mixed herbs.

    It took less time and is still delicious. :-)

    – Joey

    Joey wrote on April 22nd, 2013
  19. I use some bone broth instead of the water.

    Don wrote on April 22nd, 2013
  20. Mmm! I love me some soup and have been on the hunt for a good, primal tomato soup. Thanks!

    Elle wrote on April 22nd, 2013
  21. Thanks Mark. My wife and I are making it tonight!

    Maurice wrote on April 23rd, 2013
  22. Just a note regarding flavor: The canned tomatoes in the photo are San Marzano tomatoes (it’s a type of tomato, not the brand of the can). These have a sweeter flavor to them than the regular canned tomatoes. Nothing is added to the canning process, it just naturally has more sugar than it’s regular counterpart.

    The recipe doesn’t indicate a preference, but it’s the preferred tomato when making soups and sauces.

    Both kinds do well in soups, but your flavor preference is something to think about when you make your soup. You end up with a fresher, brighter sweeter, taste than the regular kind. The marzano tomatoes are a bit pricier as well because the majority are grown in Italy. And they are easy to find: the can will tell you if you’re buying san marzano toms.

    Can you tell I love this tomato? The taste makes enough of a difference to me.

    Buon appetito!

    gunderson wrote on April 23rd, 2013
  23. Made this recipe for some non-paleo family members this weekend and it was a hit. My only changes were to use a high quality dried oregano instead of fresh and to substitute homemade vegetable stock for the water. Def go with the San Marzanos. I paired it with an arugula salad and a glass of dolcetto. Delish!

    Jacki C. wrote on April 28th, 2013
  24. I made this in the pressure cooker and it was fabulous. Cook the tomato and seasonings for 5 min on high pressure, cool and puree with a hand blender right in the pot (Careful! I have perfected a towel-over-hand technique to avoid backsplatter). Then drop in the raw meatballs and do about 7 more minutes so the flavors blend nicely.

    We decided it tastes a lot like spaghettios, and practically licked the bowl clean!

    Jen H. wrote on May 1st, 2013
  25. I have made the tomato soup once, and it was really easy to make, plus it’s absolutely delicious. I have one of those Ninja blenders and it’s huge, so it worked great for these purposes. Finally something I can use it for other than frozen drinks! My husband raved about the soup and I loved it too. I have made the meatballs twice, and again, he raved. I freeze some of the meatballs for later because it does make a lot but they do not last long in the freezer because they are so easy to get out and eat! I am going to double the meatball recipe next time so that they last longer in the freezer because they are a tiny bit labor intensive. Also, browning them in coconut oil really gives them a wonderful flavor. I would not skip that part because it’s really important for their wonderful unique flavor. If you don’t like spicy things, cut the red pepper flakes in half. They have a kick with the 2 teaspoons.

    Wendy Anthos wrote on July 30th, 2013
  26. These are seriously my favorite meatballs. I rarely make recipes twice (so many out there) but I am about to make these for the second time in two weeks. I’ll probably make them large this time because I am somewhat impatient, but the mini meatballs are super cute! I made them with the tomato soup last time and tonight am pairing them with my mom’s pasta sauce and some zucchini noodles!

    Kara wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  27. Just made this tonight, so good! The soup was pretty acidic, so I added a little heavy cream at the end and it came out beautifully.

    Taylor wrote on April 9th, 2014
  28. This was an incredibly delicious success tonight! I believe I’ll make these again and freeze some meatballs for quick use later!

    Kara wrote on December 30th, 2015

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