This Soup Is Neither Italian, Nor A Wedding…Discuss

In keeping with my current winter recipe kick (I mean…it is winter, after all) here’s the latest one-pot wonder to keep you warm and satisfied, without expanding your waistline.  Italian Wedding Soup.  Now, this is one of those recipes that you can tweak about a hundred different ways.  Some call for chicken meatballs, some for pork and beef.  Some pre-cook said meatballs and some poach them in the broth itself.  Some don’t have carrots and some do.  Some say you should finish it with parmesan and some have you whisk raw eggs into the hot broth.  No matter which way you simmer it, in order for the soup to be considered of the “Italian Wedding” variety, it needs to have meatballs, spinach, and small pasta in a chicken broth.  So, here’s my take on it.  Just so you know, this recipe yields a whole lot o’ soup and it’s absolutely delicious.

FO YO MEATBALL

  • 1 lb. Ground Sirloin
  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1 tbsp. Season Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • 2 tbsp. Chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Take the largest mixing bowl you have, put all these ingredients in there and mix everything together with your hands.  Yes, your hands.  A spoon just doesn’t cut it.  The only way to get this stuff combined thoroughly is to use all the digits you’ve got.  Now, here’s the part that always makes me mental when reading recipes about making meatballs, meatloaf, or any other type of ground meat mixture.  Don’t over mix.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!!!  What I’ve been able to gather, is that this means to mix it just enough to where all the ingredients are combined without overworking the meat (that sounds kinda dirty).  Basically, don’t beat up, compress, squeeze, or verbally abuse your meat mixture.  This will lead to dense, tough, world-hardened meatballs.  So be nice, be gentle, and your meatballs will come out tender and delicious.

FO YO SOUP

  • 3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion (minced)
  • 5 Carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 5 Celery Stalks (diced)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tbsp. Dried Thyme
  • 16 oz. Fresh Spinach
  • 2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 lb. Small Pasta (such as, Ditalini, Acini di Pepe, or Pastina)
  • 12 – 14 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (depends on how “soupy” you want your soup)
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

After getting your meat-mixing on, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chop all the veggies you’re putting into the soup proper.  Unearth that large stock pot of yours and put it on the stove over medium heat.  Once the pot is nice and toasty, add the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme.  Sautee for approximately 7 minutes, or until the onions are softened and translucent (aka: they look more clear than white).  Now, add all that spinach along with another pinch of salt and pepper.  I know.  It looks like there’s WAY too much.  Please, whatever you do…DON’T PANIC!!!  Within a couple minutes, it will all wilt down to the perfect amount.  Once the spinach has done its thing, add the broth to the pot, turn up the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.  Once this is accomplished, remove the lid, turn the heat down to medium-high and start dropping meatballs into the pot.

Personally, I do not roll the meatballs ahead of time.  Just seems like an extra step that is just gonna dirty another dish.  That being said, you can, by all means, roll them ahead of time.  I won’t judge.

Regardless of the timing of your rolling, make these tasty little nuggets small enough to fit on a soup spoon and still have room for some broth, a veggie and/or a couple pieces of pasta.

Once all the meatballs are added to the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 20-25 min.  This is probably a good/great time to get that beer paring into a glass…

Brand_Tank_7
Tank 7 (Farmhouse Ale/Saison)
Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO)

This Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale is the perfect companion to this hearty, yet light soup.  The fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes dominate the initial sip, with the traditional Belgian malty/yeasty characteristics of the style balancing the flavor nicely.  The finish tapers off to a peppery, dry finish that keeps the palate fresh.

SOUP TIME!!!

Once you’ve let everything simmer together for the required 20-ish minutes, turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring the soup back up to a light boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

PRO TIP: When adding pasta to this soup, only keep it boiling for about 3/4 of the al-dente cook time (ie: if they tell you 10 min for al-dente, only go 7 min).  Then, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for the remaining cook time.

After the pasta is good to go, taste the broth to see if it needs more salt and/or pepper.  I usually like to add some more shredded parm at this point.  You totally don’t have to if you want to keep this as skinny as possible, but I like the way it adds a little more saltiness to the broth and it thickens it a touch.

That’s it!  Now pour yourself (another) glass of Tank 7, ladle this crazy good stuff into a big ol’ soup bowl and give your insides a nice warm hug.

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