After a pleasant burst of warm and sunny weather, this past weekend greeted us with wind, chill, and rain. So of course a big pot of soup came to mind when figuring out what to make for dinner. Italian Wedding Soup is one of my favorite soups, but I had never made it myself before. I didn’t feel like venturing to the store if I needed any ingredients for it, so I was tasked with scouring the internet for recipes that I could cobble together to make this soup with what I had. I was actually quite surprised I had pretty much everything I needed! I also finally used the last of the frozen spinach for this, so my next dish with spinach will finally have fresh. As with most of my recipes, feel free to substitute, add, remove any of the ingredients where it makes sense. Especially when it comes to using salt. I did find this to be only slightly blander than I wanted, but I’m sure the use of fresh lemon juice helped. I also added lots of extra Parmesan cheese to my bowl. But feel free just to supplement with salt if your diet can take it.
Concerning my dismay on boring food shots, I also wanted to start using some features of my camera that I’ve never really experimented with this time around. I worked on using the depth of field for my main photo of the meatballs, and I am quite pleased with the results! Oh, and one of the things I noticed about all the recipes I looked at, the meatballs were cooked directly in the broth. I was worried about all the grease that would leave behind in the broth, so I baked the meatballs in the oven first to render out some of the fat then drained them on paper towels. I’m really glad I did that.
Italian Wedding Soup
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 green onions, chopped very small, including the green part
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried sweet basil
Black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking oil. (I didn’t spray with the oil and they stuck a little bit, so I do recommend it.) Mix all the meatball ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Form meatballs with your hands about the size of a quarter, maybe a little smaller, and place them evenly apart on the baking sheet. I ended up with about 40 of them. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. I also patted the tops of them with more paper towels. Set aside while making the rest of the soup.
For the soup:
2/3 cup baby carrots, diced thin
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Regular
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 – 2/3 cup Orzo pasta
1 cup thawed frozen spinach, with 1/2 lemon squeezed over it
The other 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese for serving
In a dutch oven or soup pot, sauté the carrots and onion in the olive oil until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic in the last few minutes. Add the next six seasonings, then the chicken broth. I only had 3 cups of homemade chicken broth in the freezer, so I used 3 cups of vegetable broth I had from my first attempt at making beef broth. You can read that adventure here: How to Make Homemade Beef Broth. Bring to a boil, then add the pasta. Stir and bring back to a simmer for 10 minutes. Next add the spinach with lemon and squeeze the other half lemon into the pot. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and the meatballs, and bring to a simmer again for about another 10 minutes. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese on top and a loaf of crusty bread. This soup came out very thick, so next time I’ll either add additional broth, or reduce the pasta to 1/2 cup. This was a wonderful, comforting meal to have at the end of a very dreary weekend, however it came out so good I think I’ll make this often throughout the summer!