While we love having soup on a chilly day, we still enjoy it when the weather is sunny and the temperatures are climbing... though maybe just not as often! Since I knew I was going to have extra time to be in the kitchen tonight, I decided to make this Italian Wedding Soup for our dinner.
I say that because there is quite a bit of messy work to get this on the table and it might be tough to do on a regularly busy weekday night! For the meatballs that go into this soup, we made them a little lighter by combining lean ground chicken with hot Italian turkey sausage to add a zesty quality, without adding too much fat. Fresh parsley, a couple cloves of minced garlic and two strong cheeses, Pecorino Romano and Parmesan, are thrown in to make the meatballs stand out, while fresh bread crumbs, an egg and a little milk are added to bind and keep them moist. When all the ingredients are in the bowl, work them in with your fingers enough that they are evenly distributed, but try and keep it to a minimum so the meat doesn't get too compacted.
Now you are almost done with the messy part - the meatballs are then formed, dropped onto a baking sheet and slid in the oven to cook through. This way they gain color, cook at the same time and you don't have to keep busy with turning them in a skillet. While those were workin' away in the oven, the base of the soup was brought together by softening finely chopped onions with diced carrots and celery. An abundant amount of broth was then added, with a heavy shot of dry white wine following right behind to blend its acidic nature in. As soon as the liquids came up to a hard bubble, we added a cup of pasta - I used orzo, but any small pasta would do... ditalini, stars or alphabet pasta would be fun!
To perk up the soup with a more unique spin, fresh dill is stirred in during the final moments, along with the cooked meatballs to warm them back up. Just before you are ready to serve, a mountain of fresh baby spinach is stirred into the pot - it literally looks like a ton, but the warmth from the broth will quickly wilt down the leaves to what seems like next to nothing. You could use a few different greens if spinach doesn't do it for you - torn escarole would be pleasant (and I think more traditional), but a heartier green like kale might be a nice change as well.
Those tender meatballs (which I have a feeling will be making more appearances here in other dishes!) shined in this soup. While I know many recipes out there may have you simply drop them raw into the soup to cook them through, I thought roasting them first gave this dish a more matured core. However, I can see why one would opt to drop them in raw - it would allow their character to spread more evenly throughout the soup's liquid. I was eager to see how well the dill would fit in - we were both happily surprised to note that its mild caraway-like flavor was a welcoming addition that didn't become obtuse or distracting.
Italian Wedding Soup