I’m about to eat my words.
“I guess I just don’t really think too much about soup. I never crave it. I rarely get the itch to make it. ” – Me, October 26, 2010
Well, I’ve changed my mind. A girl’s allowed to change her mind, right?? I think about soup all of the time lately. I crave soup frequently. I always have the itch to make it. In fact, I can barely think of anything more comforting on a chilly autumn day than a bowl of soup; a creamy pumpkin bisque, savory chicken noodle, or spicy sausage and bean. I love them all.
While I’m busy eating my words, I might as well admit that my lifelong, passionate distaste for Rod Stewart has been gradually waning. Rod Stewart, the thought of whom used to give me unpleasant shivers. I now find myself singing along to his songs on the radio. I may have even raised the volume once or twice. What’s happening to me?
I’m swimming in soup this week as I prepare for our littlest guy’s upcoming baptism. I’ll be serving a menu of soups, salad, and assorted breads. There will be a Roasted Pumpkin Caramel Bisque, a Sausage, Bean, and Rapini soup, a Spicy Beef Chili, and this Italian Wedding Soup.
Italian wedding soup is typically composed of a chicken broth with meatballs, leafy greens, and pasta. It’s a simple, but perfectly married combination of flavors. I start my soup with a homemade chicken broth. You can skip this step and use prepared chicken broth to save a whole bunch of time. But, if you make the broth from scratch you’ll have the added benefit of enough cooked chicken to make meals for the rest of the week! Totally worth the small investment in time!
Italian Wedding Soup
For the broth:
- 2 whole chickens
- 2 cups carrots, coarse chopped
- 1 head celery, coarse chopped
- 2 onions, quartered
- 6-8 cloves garlic
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons parsley
- 2 teaspoons salt
For the soup:
- 3-4 teaspoons salt
- Splash of hot sauce
- 12 ounces baby spinach, coarse-chopped
- 1 pound small pasta (ditalini or orzo)
To prepare the broth, place two whole chickens into a very large pot (12-16 quart stockpot). Add carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Add enough water to cover an inch or two above the chicken and veggies. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 3.5-4 hours. When cool enough to safely handle, use a slotted spoon to remove most of the chicken and veggies. Pour the remaining mixture through a fine-sieve strainer. Save the chicken for other uses (salads, quesadillas, chicken salad, pasta dishes). Discard the vegetables. Transfer the broth back to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered for 20-30 minutes to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavor. Allow to cool. Use a spoon to skim some of the fat from the surface of the soup. (If desired, you can cool the broth completely in the refrigerator to easily remove the excess fat, which will rise and harden on the surface of the broth. This is not a necessary step, but is the most effective way to remove the fat.) Reserve 16 cups of the broth for the soup. Freeze any remaining broth for other uses.
To prepare the meatballs, combine all meatball ingredients until well-blended. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls. Bake on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
To prepare the soup, bring 16 cups of the full-flavored broth to a simmer. Add salt and pepper, as desired. About 3-4 teaspoons of salt should do the trick. (Store-bought broth, which has already been salted, will require less salt. Taste as you go to prevent over-salting the broth.) Add a splash or two of hot sauce, as desired. Add the meatballs and spinach. Simmer until the spinach wilts. In a separate pot, cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes less than directed. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Strain, then add the slightly under-cooked pasta to the hot soup.