Thursday, January 15, 2015

Italian Wedding Soup

How have I not heard of this before? I've gone to Italian weddings. I've eaten my share of soups over the years. And I've made my share of soups over the years. Soups like Corn Chowder, or Parsnip Carrot Ginger soup, or Tortilla Soup with Avocado, toasted tortilla strips and a sprinkling of cheese.

But this Italian Wedding Soup?

Best soup ever. Ever.

This is an outstanding soup. One of those soups that sits in the tummy like a warm hug. It fills your up without you feeling stuffed, and stays with you a long while. This came via my friend Julie Kentner who lives out in Winterpeg, so she knows from soup.

The original recipe came from a blog called thekitchn.

Try to find escarole if you can. I wasn't sure what it was or whether my local IGA would have it, but you'll likely find it in the lettuce section. It's a tad bitter, but once you cook it as directed, it gets sort of sweet and infuses the soup with a certain earthiness. I'm making it tonight, but I have to substitute escarole for something else (they were sold out! is it really that popular? is it because it's listed as "scarole"? is that really the French translation or was the label guy just lazy?)

 Here's hoping a mix of rapini and Swiss chard works as well.

If you have homemade stock, bring it, baby. If not, I like to use Knorr chicken broth or Campbell's in a pinch.

Here's the recipe. I changed a couple of things from the original. Most notably, I can't eat oregano, so I substituted basil. You can look at the original by following thekitchn link above to see the other cheeses etc. they recommend.

(Also, it says it serves 6-8. In what universe? We ate most of it in one sitting. Nom, nom, nom.)

Italian Wedding Soup

3/4 pound ground meat (I used a mix of beef, veal and pork or use turkey, chicken)
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
3 large eggs, divided
1 cup Parmesan/Reggiano grated cheese, divided
1 TBSP fresh basil or 1 tsp dried (so sue me, I read it wrong, I used 1 TBSP dried)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced (I used a Vidalia, which is sweet)
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 bunch greens (such as escarole) trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
 (about 6 lightly packed cups)
Red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of grated cheese, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then form the mixture into small balls, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. You should have 20 to 30 meatballs, depending on how large you form them.

In a large Teflon skillet, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over med-high heat. Add meatballs in batches and cook, turning, until browned all over, which will take only 3 to 5 minutes. (A bit pink in the middle is ok because they will finish cooking in the broth.) Place them on paper towels to absorb the oil.

In a large soup pot, heat the remaining 1 TBSP of oil over med-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, taking care not to let them brown (it will be as bitter as my grade one teacher Miss Campbell who clearly wanted to do anything but teach, and did not appreciate my inquisitive young mind) so, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Add the greens, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and cook another 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the last 2 eggs and the remaining 1/2 of grated cheese and whisk with a fork to blend.

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot soup, stirring constantly.

Cover and simmer just until the egg is set, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately and add a dash of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon, if you wish, which I did.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Hahahahahaaaa (wiping tears) leftovers, good one.