Italian Wedding Soup
I love this Italian wedding soup and I love Barefoot for supplying me with this recipe. I’ve seriously never had a bad recipe with Barefoot, honestly, every recipe that I’ve tried from her turns out great. Maybe we’re kindred spirits or something, but I get her cooking, and I like it. I have her new book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, on my Christmas wish list, and I’m hoping that Santa delivers me a copy.
I saw Ina make this soup on her show, and she made it look so easy, (like she always does) that she inspired me to go and make a batch the next day. I’m so happy that I did because this soup is my new go-to chicken noodle soup. I’ve never been a huge chicken noodle soup fan because either the noodles were too soggy or there were dark stringy meat chunks in the soup. I ate it when I was feeling under the weather, but I’ll be frank, it was not my go-to soup of choice.
This is actually the perfect soup to serve up after a long day of skiing, (Carolyn, I can totally see you making this) or a long day at the office. It’s just a comforting and hearty soup. This soup can feed a crowd or serve a family of four for 2 nights. With all that being said, I’m not going to lie, this recipe has a lot of components, and it’s not something that you can just whip together last minute at the end of a long day. But, with all that being said, it’s worth it. The meatballs are the only part that takes some time. You can even make it easy on yourself and make the meatballs earlier in the day or even the day before. I think this would be an easy Monday night meal to throw together if you had pre-made the meatballs on Sunday afternoon. All you would have to do on Monday night is make the actual soup, which is super easy, and then throw in the meatballs. You might have to let the soup simmer a bit longer so that the meatballs warm up. I also think this is a great soup to serve up for Sunday night dinner and then be re-heated and served up on a busy Tuesday night. Don’t fret about your kids and the spinach, Eli and Zoe loved it in the soup, and Eli asked for seconds of the “green stuff.”
Italian wedding soup
recipe from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
- 3/4 pound ground chicken
- 1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed – Use un-cooked chicken sausages, not cooked ones. Go to your meat counter or butcher for this. They will even remove the casings for you, if you ask.
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves – I used italian flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons milk – I used 1%
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for taste
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, minced
- 1 1/2 cups diced carrots (2-3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 10 cups (80 ounces) chicken stock – if you have homemade stock, great! I did not, so I used 2.5 32 oz boxes of organic chicken stock.
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup small pasta such as Fregola Sarda, tubetini or stars – I used Fregola Sarda pasta as I wanted a chewier and firmer pasta.
- 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
- 10-12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed – I just used two 5oz (10oz total) containers of pre-washed spinach.
Below is the pasta I used for the soup. I liked that it had a firmer and chewier texture than a normal pasta.
I also made it easy and used 2 packages of this pre-rinsed spinach for the soup.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Let’s prep your ingredients for the meatballs. Mince your garlic, lightly beat the egg, wash and chop up your parsley, measure out your breadcrumbs, milk and cheeses.
Place the following ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- ground chicken
- chicken sausage
- 2/3 cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Gently combine the ingredients together with a fork.
Now, it’s time to make the meatballs. This recipe makes 40 1 to 1/4-inch meatballs (about the size of a large gum ball or jawbreaker). I couldn’t fit all 40 on one baking sheet so I used another smaller one. If you arrange it and are more organized than me, you may be able to fit all 40 on one sheet. Line a large (and small, if you need it) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Make your 40 meatballs and place them on the baking sheet. The meatballs don’t have to be perfectly round and you can put them close together because they don’t spread.
Note: The first time I made these I could only get 30 meatballs out of the mixture. I made them smaller the next time and got my 40. No worries if you only get 30 meatballs. It will still be plenty.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and are lightly browned. It took my meatballs 30 minutes to cook. You can also use a meat thermometer to test if your meatballs are done. I usually do that because I’m afraid of undercooked meat. Set the meatballs aside.
While your meatballs are cooking, prep the ingredients for the soup. Wash and chop up your yellow onion, carrots, celery and dill. Measure out the 1/2 cup of wine, 1 cup pasta and the 10 cups of chicken stock.
In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté till softened, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the 10 cups chicken stock and the wine and bring to a boil. I turned up the heat to medium-high to help the soup to boil faster.
Add the 1-cup pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes for orzo or standard white pasta, and 8-10 minutes for the fregola pasta. You only want to cook the pasta till its tender, as the pasta will absorb the broth and continue to get tender as it sits in the soup.
Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste the soup and add any additional salt or pepper that you wish. I added a pinch or two of salt, but didn’t feel the need to add pepper.
Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. It will seem like you’re adding tons of spinach, but don’t worry, it all cooks down.
Ladle the soup into some bowls. This soup pairs nicely with warm popovers, a crusty french bread or we even like it with those breadsticks from Trader Joes.
This is a delicious and kid approved two-nighter meal!
Note: The pasta will absorb some of the soup stock as it sits. To solve this, just add a bit more stock when you’re reheating the soup.
I’ve even made the meatballs sans the soup and we served them over plain spaghetti noodles with some olive oil and parmesan. How’s that for an easy weeknight meal?
When I’m too lazy to make meatballs, I often make up this simple weeknight chicken soup. It’s another family favorite.