I had thrown togther a version of this last week, and I wanted to duplicate it for my Soups of January Series.
I had bought a family pack of good quality ground beef from the local meat market, used what I needed for my meal, and then made meatballs out of the rest of it. I divided them up into meal-sized portions, and then froze them for future reference. I pulled a bag of the meatballs out to use in this soup.
I started with a half can of tomato paste and added water and more paste until I got the right consistency, flavor, and volume of soup base. I probably used about 3/4 of a can of the paste, total. I seasoned it up with a couple good-sized pinches of Italian seasoning and a few generous shakes of granulated garlic. I gently simmered the frozen meatballs in it until they were warmed up. I dumped in a can of mushrooms, drained, and most of a can of drained black olives. (The cook always gets generous samples of black olives!) On a whim, I also spooned in a scoop of green spanish olives. Now it was time to taste and further hone the recipe.
It seemed a little bland and needing salt. I put in more Italian seasoning, and to add saltiness, I added "Better than Boullion" beef flavor until the saltiness seemed right. But it still didn't seem as peppy as it should. I wanted some heat. I put in about 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. Better, but still not the zing I was looking for. When I get to this point, I know that the bright flavor I'm after will come from vinegar or lemon juice. I decided to use balsamic vinegar and shook in about a tablespoon. For good measure I splashed in about a teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce. Now it was just right!
The last item to add before I called it done was to fold in the half package of gnocchi dumplings I had precooked.
I think it turned out quite well, just the nice hearty soup for a cold January evening!