Another fantastic recipe from Carol! I also love soup and any recipe from Carol is always on my must make list.
Thank you Carol. I always appreciate when you share one of your wonderful recipes with us.
As I think I've mentioned in the past, Bob and I are BIG soup fans. I love having a big container of homemade soup in the refrigerator every week. Not only does it make a tummy-warming dinner with a batch of homemade rolls, it's great for both Bob and I to have a cup of for lunch.
I'm always up for trying new soup recipes, but I still enjoy making some of my old faithful, tried-and-true treasures.
Bob loves the Italian Wedding Soup that they serve in the cafeteria at work. When he goes down to heat his lunch in the microwave and sees the soup listed on the menu board, he always treats himself to a cup. I'd love to know the origin of the title of this soup recipe. I'm from an Italian family and have gone to MANY Italian weddings, but I never remember having this at any of the wedding receptions. As often as I've heard him rave about how much he enjoys kithis soup, when I found this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.
I've made this soup using bone-in chicken breasts, boneless chicken breasts and leftover chicken. That's one thing I love about it-it's super adaptable. I'm not one to measure the amount of shredded chicken that goes in either.....I just use what I have either left from a roasting chicken or whatever size pieces of chicken I happen to thaw out. You really can't go wrong...it's all welcome in the pot!
I've added more ingredients to the meatballs than originally called for. Meatballs aren't meatballs for me without some fresh garlic, finely minced, then "pasted" with the side of my chef's knife to make it smooth-that way there's no danger of biting into pieces of garlic in the meat mixture. I also use seasoned bread crumbs rather than plain dry bread crumbs to add a little more flavor. I make the meatballs small-about 1/2" to 3/4"-they tend to puff up when cooked in the broth.
For me-the more vegetables the better when it comes to homemade soup, and I don't spare them here. Carrots, onion, garlic and celery aren't in the original recipe, but I include them in my version.
I love using homemade stock, but on the days I've depleted my supply that I keep in the freezer, I reach for store bought fat free, low sodium chicken broth or stock which I always keep in the pantry.
I use fresh spinach when I have it here, but when I don't? A box of frozen spinach works just fine.
I sure am glad Bob told me how good it is and got my curiosity up about it. This soup is one big bowl of YUM! The chicken and meatballs make this a nice hearty soup along with the multitude of vegetables and pasta. A light grating of fresh Parmesan cheese over the top makes a fantastic finishing touch...it's not a necessity, but it sure does taste good.
If you're soup lovers like we are, I hope you'll give this recipe a try. It's a great way to warm you up on a cold winter day.
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
(Source: adapted from The Best of Country Cooking 2007-recipe submitted by Sherri Perfett, Moon Township, PA. Original recipe found HERE)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 heaping Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, finely minced, then "pasted"
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef
10 c. fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth or stock
2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves OR 2 bone-in chicken breast halves (8 oz. each), skin removed*
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. finely chopped celery
1 1/2 c. finely diced carrot
1 1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely minced, then "pasted"
1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
4 oz. fresh spinach OR 1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 heaping Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for sprinkling over top, optional
*NOTE: This soup is also good with leftover cooked chicken....I've used leftover roast chicken in it many times. I don't measure how much-I just eyeball the amount. Just skip the step of cooking the chicken in the broth and add the chicken at the end of the cooking time.
For the meatballs, in a large bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Crumble the ground beef over the egg mixture and mix well.
Shape the beef mixture into 1/2-3/4-inch meatballs. I usually get about 35 meatballs out of the batch. Place the meatballs on a large plate, cover and place them in the refrigerator.
For the soup, in a Dutch oven, bring the broth and chicken breasts to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
If using leftover chicken in this. bring the 10 cups of broth to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat, then proceed with the recipe as written below.
Add the meatballs, celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink on the inside. Skim any fat from the top of the soup.
Add the orzo, pepper and Italian seasoning. Return the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the meat from the bones (if using bone-in chicken breasts), discard the bones and shred the chicken.
When the pasta is cooked, add the chicken, spinach and Parmesan cheese to the soup and heat through. 10 servings (about 2 1/2 quarts).