Italian Wedding Soup

It completely baffles me when I hear people say they don’t eat leftovers. Sure, there are some things that have a limited shelf life in the refrigerator, and a keen eye for spore growth and an average sense of smell are the best guides to realize when it’s time for things to move on to the trash. Still, most things, to me, taste better the second time around. I would much rather eat a reprise of spaghetti if it’s warmed with tomato sauce in a sauté pan. And if you ever need a favor from me, a cold meatloaf sandwich on white bread with just the right amount of ketchup can pretty much get me to do anything.

My bottom-less pit of a stomach usually prevents me from getting anything into Tupperware and into the fridge; my appetite rarely allows for leftovers. Occasionally, though, I come across a recipe that makes an overwhelming amount of food. Last week, I needed a dinner that was satisfying but also would last a day or two in terms of lunches and quick, weeknight meals. While soup isn’t something that is a match for my ravenous hunger, it does fit the bill if it’s loaded with meat and veggies.

Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from the Huffington Post
2 bone-in chicken thighs, with skin
4 bone-in chicken drumsticks, with skin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cups small carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
½ pound ground turkey
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
½ cup seasoned, whole-wheat breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
3 eggs
2 cups spinach leaves
cup cooked quinoa

Sprinkle the chicken with half the salt. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add the chicken, 2 cups of the the carrots, 2 cups of the celery and half of the onion. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until the chicken skin begins to brown along with the vegetables. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot, remove the skin and discard it. Return chicken to pot and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring to a slow boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Add the remaining carrot, celery and onion. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, skimming any foam from the top of the liquid once or twice. Cover and turn off the heat. Rest 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink at the bone. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the meatballs. Combine the turkey, half the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, pepper, nutmeg and one of the eggs in a large bowl. Mix well and form into small meatballs about the size of a grape. Remove chicken from soup broth and set aside to cool. Bring the broth back to a simmer and drop in the meatballs. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until the meatballs are no longer pink inside. Add the spinach. In a small bowl or a measuring cup with a spout, combine remaining eggs with the remaining cheese. Drizzle egg mixture through a gently and directly into the soup. Stir once or twice. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from skin and bones, and shred with hands into smaller pieces. Return the meat to the soup along with the meatballs and stir in the quinoa and remaining salt. Serve immediately.

If you talk to any chef or read any cooking magazine, you will be preached the importance of homemade stock. The pre-prepared version at the grocery store is just fine, but culinary experts regard homemade stock as superior. It is relatively easy to make, but I’m always looking for ways to cut corners. Instead of first making a stock, then proceeding with the soup, this recipe incorporates a quick broth base from the very beginning. First cooking the chicken and vegetables together then boiling the combination in water not only prepares the chicken for its role in the soup but also flavors the broth in ways that a can of store bought stuff couldn’t. The petite size of the meatballs is practically deceiving, as the partnership of garlic and nutmeg bring incredible flavor to the mix. The egg and cheese mixture add a contrast to the bright green spinach, which adds beautiful color as it swims in the broth and invites a fresh, earthy flavor. Traditional recipes call for pasta, but the quinoa is a good substitute while being a bit more nutritious.

This recipe serves up bowls and bowls of well-rounded, multiple food-group represented meals. Even though four servings were eaten fresh, the next day leftovers for lunches and a late night dinner were even better.

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Categories: Meat, Soup, Veggies

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