Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

First new recipe of the new year! One week in and I have kept at least one goal, that of making at least one new recipe a week, and using a cookbook for it. This week's cookbook is Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. I selected this soup with some hope that the children would like it, as they have been known to go for some similar efforts on occasion, but no dice this time. It's an excellent soup, though, one I would not hesitate to make again. The leftovers were fantastic. I wasn't sure what shape of pasta to use, but I quite unexpectedly found some organic whole wheat acini de pepe at our supermarket and they worked very well. I don't usually like whole wheat pasta, I find the flavor sometimes over-assertive, but for this use and in such a small size, it didn't bother me at all. I thought the dill would be weird, but it actually added a great, fresh flavor (I did have to use dried).

3/4 lb ground chicken
1/2 lb chicken sausage, casing removed
2/3 c white bread crumbs
2 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 c minced yellow onion
1 c 1/4-inch diced carrots
3/4 c 1/4-inch diced celery
10 c chicken stock
1/2 c dry white wine
1 c small pasta such as tubettini or pastini
1/4 c minced fresh dill
12 oz baby spinach, washed and trimmed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Place all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl and combine gently. Form into 1 to 1 1/4-inch ball on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (NOTE: Do not skip the parchment. These critters stuck even to my nonstick pan where it wasn't covered.) Should have about 40 meatballs.
  3. Bake 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes. 
  5. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil. 
  6. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook until tender. 
  7. Add the dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute.
  8. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted.
Serve with additional Parmesan if you like.

Much as I liked this, I did have a few tiny quibbles with the recipe. I am glad that Ina has discovered the effortless joy of baked meatballs, but while the mixture of ground chicken and chicken sausage tasted fine, the mix of ground chicken and sausage resulted in a somewhat visually off-putting two-tone effect. The amounts indicated left me with some hard-to-use remnants. Even though I used "hot" sausage, I thought the meatballs could have been spicier--I might add some red pepper flakes or something next time to take them up a bit. The baby spinach, while readily available and easy to use, did not seem to have a sturdy enough flavor for this soup. I might try kale next time.

Overall, though, this is a good soup to have in your repertoire at this time of year. 

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