Hearty Meatball Stew

Our President's Day weekend has thus far been cold and snowy, putting us in the mood for something warm. Not wanting to run to the grocery store, I dug through the freezer and found a package of frozen meatballs. After hunting through the darkest regions of my cookbook collection I found a one pot recipe that looked pretty decent. It turned out hearty and delicious. My kids said, "Mom, this is some serious comfort food!" Spoken like true Food Network fans.

15-20 frozen meatballs (I used Italian style)2 carrots2 stalks celery1 small onion2 Tbs. tomato paste4 cloves garlic, pressed1 T. Italian Seasoning1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes2 cups beef broth1 1/2 c. watersalt & pepper to tastecrusty French or sourdough bread for dipping Cook the meatballs according to the package directions. While meatballs are cooking, peel and dice the carrots, celery and onion in small pieces. In large skillet, saute the veggies in a little bit of olive oil and cook until they are soft and start to caramelize. Add the tomato paste, cooking and stirring for a minute or two to add some depth of flavor to the sauce (don't worry if the bottom of the pan browns a bit - it will lift off once you add the beef broth and make the sauce even more yummy). Stir in the garlic and the Italian seasoning and then add the tomatoes, beef broth and water. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the mixture on medium low for about 30 minutes. Finally, cut the meatballs in half and add them to the sauce. Simmer until everything is hot and bubbly. ***TIP: Serve with crusty bread for dipping (toasted garlic bread would be delicious!)