Italian Wedding Soup
Did you ever wonder why Italian Wedding Soup has been so named? Despite the wink-filled rumors, it's not called that because of a supernatural ability to give a bride and groom the stamina to see their way through a wedding night. In this instance, the "wedding" in question is the marriage of ingredients into one harmonious whole. Savory meatballs meet bitter greens, and are tempered by sweet carrots and tender pasta for a hearty meal-in-a-bowl. Sure, the story about hungry newlyweds sharing a special meal on their wedding day is romantic, but what could be more loving than making a great pot of soup for someone you care about?
The greens, meatballs, vegetables, and short stubby noodles offer a variety of textures that make every bite interesting. Toothsome. But the meatballs are a standout. What's the one thing you want in every spoonful? That's right. Meatballs. When we first pulled them out of the oven, our soup was in danger of failing because our Spices, Inc. taste testers couldn't stop...testing...them. Though we can’t say we blame them, we will warn the average home cook they might want to consider making a double batch of the meatballs for every soup they prepare.
We chose very lean ground turkey, partly to shave off some calories but also because they tend to shrink less in the cooking process, but you can use beef or pork, or a blend, if you prefer. Since turkey can be a little bland on its own we stuffed it full of flavor with our Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning. This gives the perfect balance of SWEET (fragrant fennel seed and caraway mixed with brown sugar) meeting HEAT (red pepper flakes and black pepper). If you wanted to make your soup a little more spicy, you could swap out Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning for our Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning, which has a few more types of chile powder and is a bit more savory with garlic. You could even consider our Breakfast Sausage Seasoning, which has lots of fragrant rosemary and sage and delivers a “waking up at Grandmom's during summer break” aroma.
We also chose kale because it is hearty, but doesn't require a ton of work to make a delicious meal. If you use a more bitter green, like escarole, make sure to blanch it for three minutes in boiling water before adding it to your soup pot. The overtly bitter flavor will leach out into the blanching water rather than in your soup, so all you're left with is crunchy, peppery escarole.
Since the sausage seasoning contains salt, we didn't add salt until the end, after all the flavors have had a chance to combine in the soup pot and we could get a good idea of the level of salt in the dish. When the soup is in your bowl, be sure top your Italian Wedding Soup with some grated Parmesan cheese for a final bite of nutty, salty tang. Add a sprinkle of Pennsylvania Pepper at that time, too, for a little peppery heat and a savory flash--these are the flowers that adorn the wedding, if you will. Then get a great big spoon and a piece of crusty bread and dig in! Buon appetito!
- For meatballs
- 16oz. Lean ground turkey
- ¼ cup Dried Shallots
- 3 Tbsp bread crumbs, unseasoned
- 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning
- For soup
- 8 cups low sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 small carrots, diced
- 2-3 cups kale or escarole, chopped
- 1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well.
- Form into 1 inch meatballs. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes.
- While meatballs are baking, heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium heat in Dutch oven or stockpot. Add carrots, onion, and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened.
- Add stock and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup ditalini and cook until pasta is al dente.
- Add kale or escarole, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- When meatballs are crispy and brown, add to soup.
- Serve with fresh parsley, a sprinkle of pepper, and Parmesan cheese if desired.