Sunday, November 17, 2013
Not Just For Weddings
Have you ever had Italian Wedding Soup? Until a few nights ago, I have never tasted it. I've seen it a lot on the internet and Food Network, but I've never made it. I can't believe how much I loved this soup. The broth was amazing. The meatballs were perfect. The pasta cooked in the soup, so it was easy. The spinach wilted in it beautifully. And the shaved Parmesan cheese on top? To die for. Okay, I wouldn't really die for it, but you catch my drift. I did do a ridiculous happy dance after trying it. It's a good thing the rest of my family are as crazy as I am. Otherwise, that would just be weird.
The key to this soup's success is the stock. Homemade stock is the best, but I don't always have time for that. So I always buy a good chicken stock in the box. Not chicken broth, stock. If you can't find stock that way, then buy the little jars of chicken stock base, the paste-type stuff. The flavor is so much better this way than bland, pale chicken broth. Trust me. You'll never want to use broth again.
And, for the pasta, I used ditalini which are small little tubes. If you can't find that, don't worry. Any other small pasta will do, small shells or the mini farfalle (bowties) or even spaghetti or angel hair broken into small pieces will work. Also, I cooked my meatballs in the oven so that my pictures wouldn't have grease droplets in it. However, if you don't mind that, by all means, cook your meatballs right in the soup. Whatever floats your boat.
What does your happy dance look like?
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 C Italian breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper
Chili flake, to taste
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 C finely chopped onion
FOR THE SOUP:
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 C ditalini or other small pasta
8 C good chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C water (may or may not be needed)
One 5-ounce package fresh spinach
Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
If you are cooking your meatballs separate, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the meatballs, mix all of the meatball ingredients together by hand. Roll the meatballs into mini meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Bake the meatballs about 20 to 25 minutes or until well browned and done.
For the soup, put the stock, celery, onions, and garlic (and meatballs if cooking in the soup) into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly, making sure it is still boiling. Cook the veggies about 5 minutes. Add in the pasta and bring it back to a boil. Once at a full boil again, reduce the heat again slightly but keep it still bubbling. Cook and stir until the pasta (and meatballs) are done. If necessary, add in the 2 cups of water if it seems your stock is cooking out too much. Once it's done, turn the heat off and stir in the meatballs if you cooked them separately. Stir in the spinach until it is wilted. Serve with the shaved Parmesan, if desired.