Okay, I’m officially in denial. I admit it. Summer is here, and here I am, making soup. I could make some sort of excuse, like drinking hot liquids makes it seem not so hot outside… or that I had leftovers in the fridge that I needed to get rid of…
And while both of those excuses are true, the REAL reason is that this soup is THAT. GOOD. You heard me. I will make this soup on a 35° (Celsius) day if it means I can eat it.
The star of this recipe is, obviously, the meatballs. I have yet to find a pre-made meatball that isn’t completely loaded with nightshades (WHY), but I find making my own is both more delicious, and quite easy.
The first thing that we need to is preheat the oven to 375°, because these are going to come together really quickly.
The key to a good meatball is handling it as little as possible, so we are going to toss everything into the bowl and then, and only then are we going to mix it. First the meat, then the egg and water, then the cheese, cracker crumbs and spices.
Using your hands, mix it all together until just barely uniform. That’s right, get those hands dirty. This part always reminds me of the scene from Angels in the Outfield when Danny Glover makes lasagna with the two boys. The disgusted yet absolutely delighted looks on their faces when he tells them to ‘dig in!’ is exactly how I feel. That movie was a very important part of my childhood.
Now you want to roll them into about 2” balls. Don’t squeeze them too much, you want meatballs, not cueballs. If you have a Broiler Pan, I would use one of those, as these babies tend to sweat. If you don’t have one, like my current kitchen, just put some tin foil on a baking sheet, curved up along the edges for a quick cleanup.
Bake those for 20 minutes. Your kitchen will smell amazing. It’s going to be really hard to save those for the soup because you will want just eat them off the pan!
I usually get to work on the rest of the soup while those are in the oven, doing any prep like chopping vegetables or defrosting the chicken stock I forgot to take out of the freezer last night. Oops!
Chop up your onion or shallots, and place them in the bottom of your pot with a little frying oil. I’ve used canola and coconut and they both work well. Cook until they get soft.
Add any other vegetables you want to cook in your soup.
Italian Wedding Soup is usually pretty basic, with a basis in green vegetables, a clear broth, and meatballs. I like to add as many vegetables as possible while still embracing the ‘simple’ tradition of this recipe, so in addition to the spinach, I’m adding asparagus and peas. And because I’m a rule breaker, some carrots that were in the fridge that I needed to use. You could also add kale, cabbage, lettuce or any other leafy green vegetables. Cook those with the onion for about five minutes, just enough for the spinach to wilt and for them to lose their hard edges.
Add the meatballs once they’re ready, and your herbs – oregano and basil to keep with our green theme.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large garlic clove , minced
- 1 egg
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ cup crumbled Ritz crackers OR plain breadcrumbs.
- 1 tsp oregano
- For Soup:
- 1 tbsp frying oil (canola or coconut)
- 3 shallots or 1 onion
- 12 meatballs
- 6 cups
- chicken broth or stock (http://halifaxbloggers.ca/isaynomato/2015/01/07/homemade-chicken-stock/) or vegetable broth (http://halifaxbloggers.ca/isaynomato/2015/05/04/easy-homemade-vegetable-broth/)
- 1 cup spinach
Preheat oven to 350°
Layer all meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl in the order they are written above.
Mix ingredients with hands gently until mixed. Do not over handle!
Create 2” meatballs and place on a Broiler Pan or tin-foil covered baking sheet.
Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
While those are in the oven, cut your vegetables and place them in the bottom of a large pot with oil. Cook until soft.
When meatballs are finished, add them to the pot along with herbs and broth.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with last week’s amazing Whole Wheat Pretzel Rolls or my ‘Just One More’ Sweet Rolls
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