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Italian Wedding Soup {minister optional}

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

I have found SO many recipes in books and online for what I think is a fairly well-known soup. Or so I have to assume, as I have to admit I’m not Italian and my Scandinavian ancestors certainly wouldn’t have put their meatballs in a bowl of soup! My ancestors were all about putting their meatballs in a nice, thick mushroom gravy and spooning it over a mound of mashed potatoes already dripping with melted butter.

The family Swedish meatballs are traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve as an alternative when the adults are eating lutefisk and lefsa. *Sigh* Such cozy family memories!  But that’s for another time and nationality discussion. Today we cover an Italian way of celebrating meatballs! This is most welcome and timely as our temp is going to dip to -22° F tonight. Brrrrr! I resorted to research on Wikipedia to find the origin of the soup and found the name is an error in translation that should read: married soup.

It refers to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together. In the traditional Italian American version the vegetables and meatballs are usually in a clear chicken broth. The Italian version evolved from a heavier Spanish version that did not have pasta in it, as it was a pricey commodity back in the time. The Spanish soup also contained more meats than just the meatballs of the Italian American version.

I’ve seen the meatballs in this soup made of many things including ground veal and turkey. I had a rather large fail early on, trying to make turkey meatballs without the proper amount of binding ingredients. They not only mostly fell apart while frying and baking, they further fell apart when put into the liquid of the soup. *Huge sigh* So for now I’m sticking with my tried and true meatball recipe that can be put in so many dishes it’s almost a crime not to have a huge batch frozen at all times in the freezer and ready to roll out into food! Later I may work on perfecting a more lean ground turkey meatball, but not today.

Once you have the meatballs at hand, the rest of the recipe is quite easy. Using frozen meatballs, it maybe took me about an hour to make this soup. Hubby called it a “definite keeper” so it’s firmly entered in my computer cookbook! We ate it accompanied by sandwiches for one meal and another time as a complete light meal. It’s up to you to decide whether to add something else to the meal or save room for dessert. (I vote for dessert!)

Italian Wedding Soup

Meatballs:
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb ground pork
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Soup:
8 cups chicken broth
3 large carrots; sliced
3 stalks celery; sliced
1 onion; diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup orzo (mine were little buttons, there are other shapes you could use)
5-6 cup kale
shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese for serving

Combine meatball ingredients, roll into balls and brown in frying pan. Carmelize them good, this adds a depth of flavor to the meat. Place in ovenproof pan and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. You could make them ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze for easy use.

In a large soup kettle combine olive oil, onion, carrots, and celery. Saute until the onions are starting to be translucent. Add spices. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to light boil and cook until carrots are tender.

Add orzo and cook for 10 minutes more. Chiffonade or chop kale and add to soup along with the meatballs. Continue cooking until meatballs are piping hot.

Serve sprinkled with Asiago or Parmesan cheese as desired.

Yield: 6 meal-sized servings

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