Happy Anniversary to us! 2 years and 376 posts later, I’m feeling like this was a good idea after all! No seriously, I wasn’t sure the whole “public” thing would be wise. I didn’t know if I had the skills to make my cooking interesting. But being an amateur cook and writer, I haven’t done so badly! With over 300 followers, I think this works! I enjoy it as much today as I did 2 years ago.
As one of those nerds who are addicted to watching food shows and competitions and reading food blogs, I usually have a long list of “foods to make some day”.. My P.S. (Provider of Sustenance/hubby) is often my partner in crime when it comes to creating meals. That means the random times we fail, we laugh together. He’s learned to not laugh AT me. Often.
Really, you have to have a good sense of humor while working with food. There are so many variables in ingredients and methods that things can so easily go wrong. But failure doesn’t have to be permanent. I just try again until it tastes fabulous. (I’m talking about you, Cheesy Corn Dip recipe #11!)
Some day maybe I’ll even learn to take great pictures. Up North there is rarely daylight at dinner time when I’m making the food. Natural lighting is good if you want to make grilled steak with lemon caper sauce at noon. That’s just not going to happen at our house, so flash lighting will be my handicap. I can’t turn my kitchen into a photo studio with proper lighting. It’s too small and my P.S. probably wouldn’t let me anyway.
My first post was an Italian Wedding Soup recipe I had recently made. At the outset I hadn’t planned to do a blog with photo by photo directions and didn’t take photos of the processes. After discussions with my sisters and mother, I learned they wanted the pictures. As Linda said, “I want to see if I’m doing it right all along”. That wasn’t a problem, and it was kind of fun to photo the steps in making dishes. Now even when I’m making a dish I’ve already blogged and know I’m not going to post, I’m looking around for my camera by habit!
I have previously taken pictures of my meatball marathons. I often make a couple hundred meatballs and freeze them for quick meals. Seriously. I’ve been using Michael Symon’s recipe for meatballs ever since I saw them made on The Chew. They even work for my traditional Christmas Swedish Meatballs with a touch more nutmeg. They’re a quick meal with a marinara sauce and pasta. They are also perfect for this recipe as well.
Thawing a couple dozen meatballs, I turned to making the soup, photographing the process this time. I’ve mentioned before that I use a vegan chicken bouillon cube that is so close you won’t know it’s not real chicken. It’s also not super salty like most premade broths and is gluten free for those who need that option. I purchase it in town after asking a grocery to stock it for me but it can be ordered online if you can’t find it locally.
When there are carrots in a recipe, I rarely follow the portion. I love carrots and for me there can’t be too many. I listed the recipe as posted previously and put my revisions in parenthesis. I added about 6 large carrots to my soup this time.
I’ve said probably too many times: I don’t like celery. I don’t hate it, I just find it too green. It tastes green like eating grass. Don’t ask. So I stuck to using the 3 stalks the recipe calls for and just sliced them thin so I could hopefully ignore them. They’re necessary to soups and stews and in a group I don’t mind them as much.
I sautéed the onions, carrots and celery in the soup kettle in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes, to get more depth of flavor from the vegetables.
With the spices I went rogue this time. I have basil in pots on my kitchen windowsill and chopped a few leaves to add to the soup pot. I had a jar of minced garlic and added a teaspoon of garlic along with some dried oregano we buy in bulk from a local store and some black pepper. I sautéed the spices with the vegetables minute or two, to release their flavors better.
I added the proper amount of water and chicken bouillon cubes to the pot and brought it to a boil. When it was bubbling away I reduced the heat and let it cook at medium until the carrots were tender.
I used the rice shaped orzo for the soup this time even though I had a bag of round shaped orzo opened. Sometimes I have no explanation. I just wanted the rice shaped orzo in my soup. I let the orzo cook until it was al dente, about 10 minutes. stirring occasionally.
The meatballs were thawed and I added them to the soup and let them heat through.
Again I deviated from my own recipe and used spinach instead of kale, having loads of fresh spinach I needed to use. I chopped it somewhat, wanting to avoid large droopy pieces on my soup spoon.
When the spinach was wilted I taste tested the soup for salt and pepper and it was ready to serve. I sprinkled some shaved Parm on top, added a plate of toasted Italian bread, and we had dinner.
The soup was super! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). My P.S. had said the recipe was a “keeper” 2 years ago and I reminded him. I just hadn’t made it again since then! We agreed we should eat it more often. We’ll see if I remember! It was a super way (again I apologize) to celebrate 2 years of blogging!
Italian Wedding Soup
8 cups chicken broth
3 large carrots; sliced (I used 6 medium sized carrots)
3 stalks celery; sliced
1 onion; diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I used a teaspoon of minced garlic)
1 teaspoon dried basil (I used a tablespoon of fresh minced basil)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup orzo (mine were shaped like rice, there are other shapes you could use)
12-18 meatballs (see meatball recipe previously posted)
5-6 cup kale (I used fresh spinach instead)
shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese for serving
Make meatballs or thaw frozen meatballs ahead of time.
In a large soup kettle combine olive oil, onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté over medium high heat until the onions are starting to be translucent. Add spices and cook another minute or two, stirring to prevent burning.
Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a light boil over medium heat and cook until carrots are tender.
Add orzo and cook for 10 minutes more. Add meatballs and cook until they are heated through.
Chiffonade or chop kale or spinach and add to soup. Continue cooking until spinach is wilted.
Taste test for seasoning adding salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot, sprinkled with Asiago or Parmesan cheese as desired.