Aaaaaahhhh… after days of busy! busy! busy! I have a reprieve. And since the weather is gloomy, chilly, and rainy, it is a perfect day for soup. I saw the impending gloomy weather last night and engaged Barry in conversation about what to make for dinner. As I planned for dinner tonight, it was clear that it was another perfect opportunity for planned leftovers. My coming few days will be busy again, so not having to think about dinner, but still having something warm and delicious ~ perfect!
I started the usual search for soups. Actually I started with chicken ideas, but then I found myself poking around at other soups. There was a tortilla soup that intrigued, but Barry thought that was really just a version of chili and he was not feeling chili! Still in the category of chicken, I found Italian Wedding Soup made with ground chicken. Eureka! I asked Barry how about Italian Wedding Soup!? Perfect!
Of course, you know I can’t just find a recipe and use it so I started reading many recipes for this delicious soup. I did give Barry the choice of ground chicken or ground beef in the meatballs. He chose beef. So starting the quest with chicken ends up with a soup that has no chicken in it! LOL
I did ask hubby, “So you DO know there is spinach in this soup, right?” Yup. He knew. He has not always been the most open to trying and eating vegetables other than green beans and broccoli, so I was surprised at his quick compliance. He said he knew I would make it delicious! Awww….
So here we go. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs ~ you can use plain
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 extra large egg ~ crack and gently beat in a small bowl
- 1 teaspoon dried basil ~ you can surely use fresh
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
- a splash of milk 2-3 tablespoons ~ I have no milk so I will use a little cream
- kosher salt and pepper
Put all of the above ingredients in a large bowl. Gently mash them with a fork.
When the ingredients are combined, begin to form the meatballs. Remember in this soup the meatballs should be small, so use a teaspoon to drop small meatballs on a greased sheet pan. This should make 40 meatballs.
Place the sheet pan in the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and lightly brown.
Now for the soup.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion
- 3 carrots, chopped ~ about 1 cup
- 2 stalks celery, diced ~ about 3/4 cup
- 10 cups chicken stock ~ homemade if you have it
- 1/2 cup dry white wine ~ use one you would drink! I like Pino Grigio
- 1 cup ditalini
- 1/4 cup dill if fresh, if dry dill, then less. Perhaps 2 tbsp.
- 12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until nicely softened. Barry is not a big carrot or celery fan, but when sautéed in this way and cooked into the soup, even he loves them. Add the wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. This means that the brown bits of flavor on the bottom of the pot will come loose and cook that flavor into the soup.
Add the stock and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. (I am stopping here for now and leaving my soup base on a slow simmer until I am ready to finish the soup.)
Add the pasta and cook for 6 – 8 minutes on a medium heat.
Add the dill and meatballs and cook for another minute or two.
Finally, add the spinach and cook until wilted.
This soup takes very little time to bring together once the meatballs are ready honestly. You could make the broth while the meatballs are in the oven and have dinner in under an hour. My meatballs are actually cooled and stored in the fridge until later. Remembering that I will add them and give them a bit more cook time than if I had put them in from the oven or even room temp.
I am not finishing mine now but I will come back and add pictures. Let me tell you why. The pasta only needs a short cook time. If you make the soup and leave it in the broth too long, the pasta will soak up the broth and double in size. No good. The spinach only needs a few minutes to wilt into the broth.
When I am ready, I will bring the soup base to a boil, add the pasta and the meatballs and cook for 8 minutes. Then I will add my dill and give a minute, and finally the spinach to wilt. It will be perfect.
Now for planned leftovers, I will warm this up, but there will be no real additional cook time so the soup will be wonderful.
Ladle this yummy soup up for dinner. Add some more grated Parmesan on top. Have some Italian bread for dipping.
Make some soup today! And enjoy!