This has been fine tuned many times. At our house everyone agrees that it is finally perfected :) This is a very hearty soup with a lot of flavor and texture. We have this at least once a week, sometimes for dinner with a small salad and garlic bread, sometimes for lunch with just crusty bread. My husband always has two big bowls everytime!
To Prepare meatballs: before baking add to l/2 lb ground beef 1 egg beaten, 1/4 cup milk, 2T Italian breadcrumbs, 1t onion powder, 1t garlic powder. Form into 1" meatballs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, drain grease While meatballs cook, prepare pasta according to pacckage directions. Put chopped onion in large soup pot with 2T olive oil or 2 large pats of butter on med/low. While pasta is boiling and onions are cooking, open all cans and drain liquid. Do not drain diced tomato can. If using Italian sausage, brown, drain and crumble. Slice basil in Julienne style. After onions are translucent turn burner to med/high. Add the prepared meatballs, let simmer with onion for just a few minutes. Add about half cup water and can of broth. Add more water after adding all ingredients. Add diced tomatoes with the liquid, Drain and add corn, northern beans, green beans, basil leaves, if using optional items add those items at this time. Drain pasta and add to pot. Add Italian seasoning. Stir all ingredients together, add water accordingly, salt and pepper to taste. Heat on high for 15-20 minutes then simmer on low if eating later, simmer on med high if eating within one hour. Serve with small dollop of sour cream and crusty italian bread. Enjoy!