Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Barefoot Contessa Italian Wedding Soup

Today was an exciting day around town. It was the first day that truly felt like fall. The high was about 73, but the windchill made it feel about 60. Dare I say, it was even a little...chilly? One of my second graders even thought it was "freezing!" But I guess when we're used to near 110 days, 60 does feel downright cold. Regardless, it put me in the mood for some cool weather comfort food. I'm not a fan of Italian wedding soup in general, but this recipe has yummy baked chicken sausage meatballs and fresh parsley and spinach, which give it a unique and flavorful taste. I first tasted this soup when visiting friends in Boston a few years ago and I've been making it ever since. It's Ina Gartner's recipe, and as she would say "It's just fabulous."

For the meatballs

1/4 lb ground chicken
3/4 lb chicken sausage (I use chicken spinach feta sausage)
2/3 cup white bread crumbs (Ina says fresh, but really...)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
10 cups chicken stock (Ina says homemade, but again, really...)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as stars
1/4 cup dill (I eliminate)
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the meatballs, combine all ingredients and gently combine with a fork. Drop 1 inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Makes about 40 meatballs. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly brown. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat olive oil over medium heat in a stockpot. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute until softened. Add chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender. Add the meatballs and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

I love this soup because it's really easy to throw together after work, yet it truly tastes like it's been cooking all day. Also the meatballs by themselves are great for kids! And it is lovely with a nice glass of white ;-)

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