Sunday, April 15, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

The moment I commit to daily posting, I fall off the internet.  Oops.  I have a good excuse...  I did a dinner that was planned for 50 last night.  3 hours of shopping, 12 hours of cooking, 4 doubled pasta dishes, huge Caesar salads, antipasto salad, bruschetta, and Italian wedding soup-- CHECK.  I also successfully made Bechamel ((a cream sauce)) for the first time without having to throw it out, so--  DOUBLE CHECK.


The Italian wedding soup I made last night is actually a mash-up of two different recipes: the broth by the Barefoot Contessa and the meatballs by Giada.  The original recipes can be found on The Food Network's website, but here's what I did.

For the meatballs you need:
1 small onion, finely diced

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, about two garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Ball them:
  • Start by beating the egg.  Add the onion, parsley, garlic, salt and bread crumbs and stir it around a little.

  • Drop in a half pound of ground beef and ground pork, the Parmesan, and the pepper, and prepare to get really messy.  Using your hands, knead the crap out of it until it is all uniform in appearance.  Yes, this is slightly unpleasant and pretty cold.  You will be happier if you take your rings off first.  Shape them into approximately one inch round balls.  They totally don't have to be perfect, so let it go.  

  • You have a couple of options of how to cook them.  That crazy Giada just cooks them in the soup itself.  However, given that there is ground pork in these, it is pretty fatty...  I thought that seemed like a bad idea.  I elected to throw them all in a crock pot on high for 6 hours.  ((I quadrupled this recipe.))  Once they were done, I drained a *significant* amount of fat off.  I later re-skimmed the soup a couple of times, so I can't imagine how fatty it would be without the initial draining.  

  • Another option would be to brown them in a large skillet on all sides and then finish them in the oven by baking for 25-30 minutes on a cookie sheet.  Your choice.  
Dimly lit meatballs
This isn't the way I typically make meatballs...  but it might be the new way I make meatballs.  Really, really good.

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 chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 12 ounces escarole, washed and trimmed

  • To make the soup:
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan and then add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook them until softened, about 8 minutes.  Give them a few stirs in the process just to make sure nothing is getting stuck.  Add your broth and wine and bring to a boil briefly.  Add the escarole ((which is I think a variety of lettuce)) and allow it to wilt.  Turn the heat down and let it simmer.  Add in the meatballs ((I hope you are using a really big soup pot, oops, shoulda mentioned that earlier)) and allow it to simmer as long as you want if your meatballs were previously cooked.  If you are cooking them in the soup, then add them after the broth and the wine and allow to cook for 8 minutes prior to adding the escarole.  

  • I let this simmer for several hours and it kept getting better and better.  Add salt and pepper as you think it needs it.  I did skim the top a few times to remove excess oil/fat.  

  • Next time I make this, I am going to use ground turkey.  It is much leaner and would avoid this skimming and draining issue.  
Here is the picture borrowed from Recipe Girl because due to the time of night this was finished, the pictures are not cute.  

  • *****
Okay, I need to run to grab some more dog food ((damn dogs both need to get jobs, now)), pick up the catering stuff from last night, and then get ready for an afternoon party I'm doing at 2.  Happy cooking! 


Let me add, Blogger is not cooperating with me today so if there are weird formatting issues, it is totally not my fault.  I fought with getting the pictures to place properly for far longer than reasonable or necessary.  ((Shakes fist at computer-y stuff.))


  1. This looks great. I've had it in the past with a pearl pasta (not orzo; more like Israeli couscous). Any thoughts on adding a starch?

    1. The original recipe calls for like a small pasta, like those stars. However, because this was going to have to be transported, I didn't want to risk the pasta breaking down so I left it out.