My first thought was, “Do Italian people really eat this at weddings?” I’m not Italian so it’s an honest question, don’t you think? After a little research, though, I learned that the “wedding” part refers to the fact that the vegetables and meat go well together in this Italian-American soup (hence the marriage). Whatever the history, it’s a great recipe!
Although the broth is fairly simple, it’s the meatballs that are the star of the show here. While they consist of typical meatball ingredients, the addition of Italian sausage and fresh garlic adds a lot of flavor! Baking them in the oven cuts down on prep time, and results in tender and delicious meatballs. I couldn’t fit all the meatballs on one baking sheet so I used two baking sheets and rotated them on the racks halfway through baking.
The store I was at didn’t have fresh dill so I used a heaping teaspoon or so of dried dill. Right before serving, I also stirred a tablespoon of pesto into the soup to bump up the fresh herb flavor. Garnish each bowl of soup with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Italian Wedding Soup
-recipe from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredientsby Ina Garten
Who likes standing at the stove rolling meatballs around in hot oil? Not to mention that I can never get them evenly browned. I discovered that chicken meatballs mixed with good Italian sausage have great flavor and they’re so much easier to make because you bake them in the oven. This rich chicken soup is filled with lots of good things: spinach, pasta, and plenty of those spicy meatballs.
Serves: 8 servings.
For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken Italian 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 cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 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 1/4-inch diced carrots (3 carrots)
3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery (2 stalks)
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.
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 cheese.
Note: the pasta will thicken the soup as it sits; just thin it with some water or chicken stock.