Judging by my previous posts here (as well several others on Bliss), you probably think its all sweets at our house. Obviously I love to bake, and I generally agree that we shouldn’t deprive ourselves or our kids of these treats. Truthfully though, we eat healthy meals. I usually prepare something with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and/or legumes. My husband can confirm that I probably make quinoa with chickpeas more often than I should. Which brings me to today’s dish. This soup is incredibly flavorful and healthy.
Meatballs?! Yup. Healthy soup with meatballs? That’s right. A little background: I come from a German/Hungarian/Bohemian background. From my childhood through today, whenever my extended family gets together for a holiday, we have four different types of meatballs. Four! I’m a connoisseur. When I saw this soup– with it’s chicken meatballs (rather than the beef versions of our holiday meals)– I had to give it a try.
I’ve made a few variations on the meatballs in this soup. They’re all fantastic. Ground turkey (rather than ground chicken, as in the recipe) works just fine. Also, if you can’t find chicken sausage, substitute an equal amount of ground chicken and add extra black pepper and one teaspoon each of sweet and sharp paprika to the mixture. While each is slightly different, no one version is better than the others.
What about the flavor? It’s amazing. The meatballs, with their combined garlic, parsley, parmesan, and romano cheese are both savory and fresh. Fresh may sound weird, but there’s really no other way to describe how the parsley affects these little meatballs. The broth is incredible as well. The dill stands out, but it doesn’t overpower the soup. The spinach really adds to the fresh-feel of this Spring dish. Make it– you’ll be happy you did so.
The Recipe: Italian Wedding Soup
For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (Ina uses white)
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Soup:
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced white onion
1 cup diced carrots ( 3 carrots)
3/4 cup diced celery ( 2 stalks)
10 cups good quality chicken stock
1/2 dry white wine (Note: If you don’t have any wine, the soup will still be delicious without it)
1 cup any small pasta, such as tubetini or stars
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed (Use a little less if you feel this is too much for you)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, garlic, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. You should get 40 meatballs from this mixture. Make a round ball and score the meat into 4 equal parts. You will get 10 meatballs from each of them. Drop meatballs onto the pan with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
In the meantime, for the soup, heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 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 another minute, until it is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese.
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook
Thanks again for stopping by!