EASY-PEASY, DELICIOUS-NUTRITIOUS

Comfort Food, Italian Style

Italian Wedding Soup has all the good stuff that soups contain, plus tiny little bits of pasta that just roll over your tongue before slipping into your tummy. If you look up a recipe for the soup, you’ll find as many variations as there are Italian mamas holding forth in their kitchens. And that’s the rub. You have to insert yourself and your culinary instincts when putting together this simple soup.

Spinach, kale, chervil, escarole – all are your choice for the final ingredient. Streaming an egg into the broth? Your choice. Dried parsley or fresh? Fresh is best. Do the meatballs go in uncooked, baked, fried or sautéed? I fried mine and created a crispy edge to them. Next time I’ll try uncooked, letting them slowly cook while maintaining their shape. And whatever you do, don’t forget the salt and pepper, which the recipe I followed eliminated, but my taste buds knew better!

But the bottom line to Italian Wedding Soup is that it’s a dish you can make in the afternoon and serve for dinner, along with a crunchy loaf of bread. Go ahead and try it. Release the Italian mama who lives in your soul!

Ingredients:

Meatballs:
10 ounces ground pork
10 ounces ground chuck
½ cup bread crumbs
NOTE: measure twice the amount of herbs called for as you will also use them in the broth.
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (used dried if you must)
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped (ditto)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped (ditto)
1 egg
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Season with salt and pepper

Soup Base:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce salted butter
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh or dried parsley
1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil
1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano
8 cups chicken stock
1 Egg
1 cup acini di pepe (orzo can be substituted)
4 cups baby spinach, or any other leafy green vegetable

Instructions:
Beef. Pork. Bread Crumbs. Parsley. Basil. Oregano. Egg. Parmesan Cheese.
Combine all the above in a large bowl until elements are fully integrated. Dampen your hands and shape the meat into small ¾-inch balls. Put into refrigerator while the soup base is being prepared.

Olive Oil. Butter. Sweet Onion. Carrots. Celery.
Melt the oil and butter in a Dutch oven, on medium heat, until the butter bubbles subside. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Garlic. Parsley. Basil. Oregano.
Add to the pot and stir for about a minute. Don’t let the garlic burn.

Stock.
Add to pot and stir. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let the flavors combine for a few minutes. Taste for seasonings and add if necessary.

Meatballs. Acini di Pepe.
Add the meatballs and acini di pepe and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove a sacrificial meatball and slice to determine if it’s cooked through. Sample the acini di pepe to be sure it’s soft. If necessary, skim any meat residue from the surface.

Egg. (Optional)
Crack an egg into a bowl and whisk. Pour it into the broth and quickly stir it around.

Leafy Greens.
Add the greens and cook for another few minutes until they are soft.

Ladle into generous soup bowls and serve with a crunchy baguette.

This is comfort food, Italian style!

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