Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup

What is it about meatballs that makes them so comforting? So tender and filling. I especially love them in soup, since they give you something to literally dig in to. After the crush of Thanksgiving cooking, party planning and the official settling in of Midwestern winter, I needed some comfort. The tiny dog tried, but he's no meatball.

My version of Italian Wedding Soup delivers on comfort, without excessive calories or heaviness. Turkey meatballs and spinach keep it light.

This recipe gives you a double serving of the good green stuff, with spinach in both the meatballs and the soup. I love frozen chopped spinach for meatballs, since it gives them both volume and keeps them moist.

Traditionally meatballs are sauteed in a pan, but I like to bake them to avoid excessive oil. Since these are going into soup, you don't need to be too concerned about them drying out.

While your meatballs are baking, you'll get your soup base going. It's as basic as they come -- onions, carrots and celery. 

In goes the pasta and you're getting oh so close to a warm bowl of cozy.

And a bit more spinach right before serving time. Look how healthy you are.

Ladle the good stuff over your gorgeous green-flecked meatballs and add a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Comfort express.

Italian Wedding Soup
For Meatballs
1 lb lean turkey
1 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
2/3 cups bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten

For Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup white wine
1 cup orzo pasta
10 oz fresh spinach
Grated parmesan cheese, enough to sprinkle on top of the soup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start by squeezing all of the liquid from the spinach. Combine spinach, turkey and all remaining meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Take care not to over mix or squeeze too tightly. Gently roll into 1-2 inch balls and back in the oven until golden, about 30 minutes. 

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute until softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add chicken stock and white wind, bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Once pasta is tender, add spinach and cover. Cook for 1 minute just until spinach is wilted. 

Place 3-4 meatballs in a bowl and ladle soup over, garnishing with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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