Saturday, December 31, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Every time I make this soup, my husband always tells me he wishes I made a bigger pot.  

You will need for the meatballs:
1 LB Lean Ground Beef
1/4 Milk
2/3 Cup Breadcrumbs (I'll show you how to make these if you're like me & don't have any in the house)
1 egg
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated or shredded
1 tsp. McCormick Italian Herb Blend
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
 1/2 tsp. Salt
Ground Pepper to taste

 For the Soup:
2 - 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium sized Onion
3 medium sized Carrots
A couple handfuls of Spinach (this will cook down, so see how much you like)
1 big spoonful Better than Bullion Chicken
1 small spoonful Better than Bullion Vegetable
12 cups water
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a separate Pan:
1/2 box of Pasta - Orecchiette works nicely, for this batch I used Barilla Piccolini Mini Farfalle

 Here's a look at my ingredients minus the milk, oil, water & pasta:

First things first, I needed to make bread crumbs.  So, I found an Italian Style Bread in my house and put a couple of the pieces close to the end of the bread into my mini food processor and pulsed it until I had a nice coarse bread crumb. 

I left them a little on the coarse side, which is fine.  If you want your smaller, pulse a bit longer.

I wound up with close to a cup of bread crumbs according to the measurement on the side of my bowl, so plenty for the batch of meatballs I'm making.  The extra crumbs can be stored in a container in the fridge (where they will continue to go stale), or can be put into the compost.

Now that I have the breadcrumbs made, I can add the rest of my meatball ingredients into a bowl.  I usually mix these by hand, but I do wear disposable gloves.  I just find it easier when dealing with meat to wear the gloves, and they do sell these in the grocery store now.  So, mix by hand until well blended.

Now it's time to roll into balls.  You can see that I got quite a lot of meatballs from my pound of meat.  I like to make them small, so they fit on the spoon better.  When you make a dish, it's good to think about how you're going to eat it.  When we had this soup, I found that I did cut a few of the meatballs in half with my spoon, but overall they were easy to eat at just one bite.  So, set those aside a minute, or jump ahead to the browning step.  I chose to set them aside.

Time to cut the carrots.  I usually put a slit in my carrots through the thicker part as shown here, so when I go to slice them I don't have to make smaller pieces later.

Here are my diced carrots for the soup, not too big, not too small, just a nice bite to go on a spoon.

Here is my diced onion.  If anyone would like to know how to cut an onion, let me know & I will post it.  Just wanted to show my piece size for now.

Here is the spinach.  I had a half of a bag of baby spinach left over from something else I was cooking, so it wound up being 2 larger handfuls for this batch of soup.  I cut through it each way so that pieces would also fit on a spoon nicely as well.

Here's how I started out cooking my meatballs, which turned out not to be the best way to do them.  It's been awhile since I've made them & I knew not to crowd them in the pan, but since my meat was very lean, they stuck to the bottom of my soup pan.  So much for my trying to save washing an extra pan. 

Here's how I wound up finishing browning the meatballs.  In my non stick saute pan with a little bit of oil added to it.  I really like browning the meatballs first.  It just adds an extra flavor dimension to the soup.   Your meatballs will cook in the broth of the soup if you want to skip this step, they just might not taste as good.  Once you have all your meatballs browned, set them aside on a clean plate.  You never want to put cooked food in a place where you've had raw meat.  That's just asking for a nasty foodborne illness.

Before we start to cook the soup, go ahead & put a pot of water to boil on another burner for your pasta.  I typically add a pinch of salt to the water since it's the way I learned to cook pasta in Italy.  Once your water starts boiling, you're going to add your pasta and cook it for about 2 minutes less than what the package tells you to cook it.  Drain & by the time that's ready it will probably be time to add it to the soup.

So, while you're waiting for the water to boil for you're pasta it's time to get the soup started.

In the pan that you're going to make your soup in heat your olive oil (if you don't have olive oil, use vegetable or canola oil, or what you have on hand) over medium hi heat.  Add your diced onion and saute until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes.  We're not trying to brown the onion, just start the cooking process.  Add your carrots and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes until they soften.  Add the spinach and allow that to cook down for a minute.  Put your meatballs in the pan and then add 12 cups of water.

 Add 1 Tbsp + a couple of tsp (or just use one of the big spoons from your drawer & add that) of the Chicken Better Than Bullion, and add 1 & 1/2 tsp (or use one of the small spoons out of your drawer) of the Vegetable Better Than Bullion. 

Bring temp up until a few bubbles rise to the surface and then add your drained pasta.  Simmer* for 5 minutes, then TASTE your soup.  This is where you adjust your seasonings by adding any salt & pepper, or if you need a touch more chicken flavor (if the soup tastes watery) add a little more of the Better than Bullion.  If the soup is too salty, add a little more water.   Enjoy!

*Simmer is a culinary term used frequently that I want to explain here.  You will probably turn the heat back down to about medium or so on your stove, but you want to make sure that you still have some bubbles coming to the surface of your pan. Not boiling, but a light bubbling.

Here is what my finished soup looked like:

Sorry for the slightly blurred picture.  Here is what my soup looked like when served:

Feel free to sprinkle on some extra Parmesan Cheese as a garnish!


Here's a quick look at what my kids had for dinner.  They usually have soup with us, but since I had the minor fiasco with the meatballs sticking I put those bits that stuck to the pan and tossed it back into my non stick pan after I wiped out the extra grease.  I tossed in some pasta that I finished cooking and then topped with some extra Parmesan cheese. They were happy with their meal.

I served our soup with some strawberries I tossed with some homemade vanilla sugar.  Let me know if anyone wants to know how to do this later & I'll make it a blog post.

We also had homemade baguette as well.  This probably will be a future blog post.  For some reason people think it's hard and time consuming to make homemade bread, stay tuned.  Hopefully I'll be able to change some of your minds about this.

Let me know what you think about the soup if you give it a try!


The Dunns said...

Looks good. I'd love info about the homemade vanilla sugar and baguette, too!

Sheri said...

Looks awesome!! I'll have to try it.

Catherine said...

Holly - I'll take some pics and post about the Vanilla Sugar tomorrow hopefully. The baguette will come at some point. Stay tuned for that one. I need to exchange a dough hook for my mixer, I accidentally ordered the wrong size.