Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Soup in Winter - Italian Wedding Soup

Ok, we finally accept that winter is here, the holidays are over, and there are no more trips to warm places.  We must adapt to the cold, humid weather.

That means soup!  Hearty soup!

The top of our list is Italian Wedding Soup, a triumvirate of meatballs, pasta, and green vegetables.  Our favorite is a recipe by Ina Garten, called, oddly enough, Italian Wedding Soup.

According to Wikipedia, the "wedding soup" refers to the combination of the meatballs, pasta, and green vegetables, a great "marriage" of ingredients.  There are many variations and combinations of the three and we use what we find in the market today.

Meatballs:  Ina Garten recommends ground chicken and chicken sausage, which we don't find, but Barrons Meat and Seafood in the Alameda Marketplace has fresh white and dark ground turkey.   Three-quarters of a pound of each is mixed with bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, milk, egg, and salt/pepper.  Roll 1-inch meatballs out of the mixture and bake them for 1/2 hour until brown and cooked through.  We have to sample and several don't make it to the final soup.

Soup base, turkeyballs, spinach, pasta - some assembly required

Soup Base:  Sautée a minced onion with diced carrots and celery in olive oil until soft, then add 2-3 quarts of homemade chicken/duck stock that was prepared last weekend from a leftover Safeway roasted chicken carcass (consumed for sandwiches during the week) and duck leg bones from the weekend's duck ragu.

The stock is made by simmering the leftover chicken and duck bones and scraps in 3-4 quarts of water along with whatever vegetables and herbs are handy (onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, bay leaves, parsley,  rosemary, thyme, and black peppercorns) for 3-4 hours.  Pour through a strainer, et voilà

Pasta:  Bring the soup base mixture to a boil, add the pasta and cook a few minutes until tender.  The pasta should be small, such as the tubetini, stars, cavatelli, orzo, pastina or acini di pepe.  Today, we find orzo, which works great!

Add  the meatballs/turkeyballs along with fresh dill and simmer for a minute or two.

Green Vegetables:  Flavor to taste with salt an pepper, then add the green vegetables, in this case, 3/4-1 pound of baby spinach (alternatively, swiss chard, broccoli rabe, endive, escarole, kale, or cabbage) and cook another minute.

Soup assembled

Serve in bowls, along with grated Parmesan cheese.  What a great, warming, wholesome meal!

Leftovers for another day

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