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Italian Wedding Soup

December 26, 2015

I love soup.  I could probably eat soup for just about every single lunch and dinner throughout the fall and winter seasons.  Soup and a hunk of crusty homemade bread.  While my husband likes soup, he does not feel the same passion as I.  He insists soup is not meant to be served at dinner.  He is so wary of this that when I made dinner the other night he became visibly stressed, commenting "that looks a lot like a soup.  Is it going to be a soup?  If it is, that's not going to work out well for me."  It was not going to be a soup.  He was looking at a sauce I hadn't yet thickened.

{sigh.....}It is because of this, I only serve soup for lunch.

{P.S. He loved the dinner - once the sauce was thickened.}

So, we eat a lot of soup for lunches throughout the fall and winter.  This is one of our absolute favorites.  The meatballs are tender and delicious and they compliment the light broth and veggies perfectly.

Italian Wedding Soup
Source: Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken, turkey or beef
1/2 pound chicken or pork 
sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 stalks 
celery, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1 cup small pasta such as ditalini, tubetini or stars
12 ounces baby spinach, rinsed and stems trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken/beef, sausage,
bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, cheese, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and combine gently with a fork or hands. With a teaspoon or small scoop, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto prepared baking pan.  (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and Italian seasoning, stirring so it does not burn, and cook for 1 minute.  Add chicken stock
and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium to simmer.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook according to package instructions, until the pasta is tender. Add the cooked meatballs to the soup and stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

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