Soups are one of my favorite ways to sneak some veggies into my husband’s diet. Not only is he far more willing to consume vegetables that have been softening nicely in a hot soup, but I also get the added comfort of knowing that even if he pushes some of the veggies around in his bowl, he is still getting the nutrition of the broth that the veggies have been stewing in.
Recipes for this soup can vary, so for our purposes here, I have included the recipe as I prepared it this week. First things first, you need to make yourself some meatballs. Now, I have taken some flack in the past when talking about my tried and true standard meatball recipe, in that the only meat I use is ground beef. “What kind of Italian are you?”, I have been asked, “You gotta use meatloaf mix!…..Fuhgettaboutit!” (ok, nobody I know actually says that word, but don’t you just feel like you are in Brooklyn??)
So I set about making me some “real” meatballs, and the recipe is here…
Kitty’s “Real” Meatballs
1.5 lbs “Meatloaf Mix” (equal parts ground veal, pork, beef)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup (or more) unseasoned dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper
The assembly of meatballs is pretty easy, just mix all ingredients in a large bowl (with your hands!) and form bite sized balls. Ideally, you make yourself a big enough batch so you can make soup one night, and make spaghetti and meatballs later in the week. Here is a batch of large meatballs in the oven right now…
Kitty’s Italian Wedding Soup
1 cup chopped onion
1 large chopped carrot
3 stalks chopped celery
1 bunch swiss chard, stalks removed, greens chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 quart boxed chicken stock
1 quart homemade vegetable stock
1/2 of meatball recipe, formed into bite-sized balls
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup orzo pasta
salt & pepper, seasoning to taste
1) Sautee the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil, until softened and onion is translucent. Add swiss chard and cook until wilted.
2) Add liquids and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Slowly drop in your meatballs one by one, careful not to splatter the hot broth on yourself. Turn heat to medium low, so that you still have a nice simmer. Cover pot, and allow to cook at least a half hour, or longer.
3) 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the beans and orzo. Adjust seasonings, and bring soup to a quick gentle boil once again, so the pasta cooks through. Return heat to low to keep warm until ready to eat.
Here is the soup right after the meatballs were added
**A few notes on this recipe: Escarole is the leafy green traditionally used in this soup. The escarole available at my local market looked terrible, so I used the chard. Ditalini pasta would also be the traditional pasta used, but I had orzo in my kitchen so I subbed it. I would use whatever you have on hand, even broken up spaghetti would work well. Same goes for the stocks, I happened to have the homemade vegetable stock on hand, so in the soup it went.
We enjoyed this meal with some delicious garlic and cheese crostini. All in all I was happy with this soup, but remember the meatball story? These meatballs were a little bland to me, probably due to the lower fat content, and the light color threw me off. It didn’t thrown my husband off though! He polished off 2 huge servings, and the rest for lunch the next day. I should have chopped the swiss chard into smaller pieces, as he did push them around the bowl a bit, but don’t forget…they were swimming in the nutritious broth, which he got plenty of.
On our official veggie fake-out broccoli rating scale, I give this recipe 7 out of 10 heads of broccoli.