Saturday, January 8, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

With a snowy start to the day and a stocked pantry and fridge, I decided to stay in, comfort myself and make a pot of Rachael Ray's Italian Wedding Soup. I made this a few years ago after I saw her cook it on TV and promised to make it again soon. That didn't happen, but just like all memorable meals- it's been in the back of my mind forever.

I did a little research and found that even though this soup is often served at Italian American weddings, the name "Wedding Soup" is actually a mis-translation of the Italian language. Minesha Maritata means married soup and is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together- the flavors marry. And that they do. This recipe is delicious and moves along quickly (until you start rolling the meatballs and think you'll be doing that for days). But really, it's worth the time and effort because everything else including the prep is soooo simple.

I changed Rachael's recipe slightly by adding diced tomatoes in their liquid in addition to the chicken broth. I also used ground chicken instead of meatloaf mix, and the meatballs came out tasty and tender. A pinch or two of Old Bay found it's way into the broth as well as a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. I also cut down on the amount of chopped spinach and pasta. The original recipe can be found on if you'd like to compare.
Mini-Meatball Italian Wedding Soup
Inspired by Rachael Ray
1 T canola oil
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
3/4 cup diced onion
2 bay leaves (I use dried, but fresh is fine)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg beaten
2 cloves garlic grated or minced
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
2 cans (14.5 oz each) low fat/low sodium chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (no salt added if you can find it)
1 can (14.5 oz) water
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup spaghetti broken into 1 inch pieces (I use Dreamfields low carb)
5 oz raw spinach chopped
IN DEEP POT over medium heat add oil, carrots, celery, onions and bay leaves. Season with salt, pepper, and Old Bay. Cover pot and cook five or six minutes. My stove cooks very high so I check it often and usually have to lower the temp. You want the veggies to soften, not brown. Stir occasionally.
WHILE VEGETABLES COOK, make the meatballs. Combine egg, garlic, cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Now add the ground chicken. You may think this mixture is a little dry for meatballs, but remember they're cooking in broth and you don't want them to fall apart in the soup. They turn out beautifully.
UNCOVER SOUP POT and add broth, diced tomatoes with their liquid, and water. Add cushed pepper flakes and increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and start to roll chicken mixture into small balls (dumplings). Add the dumplings to the broth as you roll them. As I said before, this is the longest part of the process. Now add the broken spaghetti, stir, cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. Stir in chopped spinach in batches. When spinach has wilted , the soup is done and ready to serve.
I would have served this with crusty bread, but once again I'm cutting back on the carbs. So I did the next best thing and toasted up some cheesy lavash squares. The whole meal was extremely satisfying. And it feeds a crowd so I'll either eat it all week, share it with friends or freeze it. Very comforting.

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