Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

Sunday dinner is my favorite meal of the week. At this point it's usually just me and Joe sitting in the couch, watching TV and enjoying a meal that we've cooked together. In later years I'm sure I'll enjoy Sunday night dinners as a time to reconnect as a family, sitting around the table catching up and getting ready for the week ahead. At this point in our lives, Joe and I are pretty well up to date on what's going on with each other, so my focus is more on the food! Sunday usually means extra time to cook, and a chance to make something more involved than our usual weeknight dinner.

I needed to prove my worth in the kitchen after last week's not so great new recipes, so I knew Ina Garten was the person to turn to. I personally can't stand her Barefoot Contessa show on Food Network, but I adore the two cookbooks of hers that I own. I can't remember making any recipes of hers that I didn't enjoy, so I pulled out the Back to Basics cookbook when it was time to plan this week's recipes. I knew right away which recipe was perfect for a January night at home with Joe... Italian Wedding Soup!

This is a type of soup I'd never tried before, because it has meatballs in the soup, and meatballs are usually made with beef. But Ina's recipe is different, and calls for a combination of chicken sausage and ground chicken. Perfection!

The meatballs were baked, and turned out tender and full of flavor. The pasta added some heft (I don't like wimpy soup), and the spinach made it seem nice and healthy (which really it was!). I think the best part of the soup was the addition of minced fresh dill, which gave it such a fresh, herby flavor. We ate Ribiola Due Latte Italian cheese from Whole Foods with the soup, with bread and roasted garlic. The meal paired nicely with the tripel style beer that Joe had gotten for Christmas, from the Boulevard Brewery Smokestack series. It's high quality KC beer, and I'm bummed out we can't get it here in Chicago. It does make it a treat when we get a chance to down some!

Italian Wedding Soup
from Back to Basics, by Ina Garten

Serves 6-8 (we did a half recipe, and it easily serves 4)

For the meatballs:

* 3/4 pound ground chicken
* 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
* 2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
* 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
* 3 tablespoons milk
* 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

* 2 tablespoons good olive oil
* 1 cup minced yellow onion
* 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
* 3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
* 10 cups homemade chicken stock
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
* 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
* 12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

This picture illustrates the large size of my wonderful new stockpot... no more boiling pasta in my Le Creuset dutch oven!

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.


Proud Italian Cook said...

Great soup Erin, perfect for a cozy Sunday together. You and Joe sure know how to eat!

Laura in Paris said...

Oh, I should have prepared this for my duaghter and husband when they got married last month!

TKW said...

I've been wanting to try that recipe! I'm glad you liked it...now I know I can make it in good conscience!

Anonymous said...

This is so perfect! My mom doesnt take beef and so she misses out on the countless recipes tht use beef. Thanks for sharing! :)