Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Italian Wedding Soup

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If you follow my blog, in the past, under the “Let’s Dish” category, I’ve posted a little on my Italian Wedding soup. I didn’t go into much detail, as I was a newbie at blogging. The name Italian Wedding Soup stemmed from the combining of meat with pasta. Growing up in my home pasta was served as a separate course from the meat dish.This post will show you everything you need to know on how I make this soup. My secret ingredient for the most flavorful meatballs is basil pesto. Surprised, don’t be. When you break down the ingredients in basil pesto, you’ll find that most of those item are in my meatballs anyway. I have done variations, like, instead of small pasta, I’ve used mini cheese ravioli. It’s really delicious that way. I gives an extra surprise to the dish.

I think whenever your making a recipe that calls for meatballs, it’s important that they are tender and flavorful bites of heaven. My basic recipe for meatballs ( with a couple of exceptions) is always the same. Whether I’m using  ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken, There are those times however; when I’ll make a Greek or Asian dish that call for meatballs. For those times, my recipe changes, but that’s another story. So for the meatballs for my Italian Wedding Soup. I’m making a double batch because, I’m going to show you two versions. What’s great about making extra is that you can freeze the soup for another time.Whenever I freeze a completed soup, I let it come to room temperature, and place them into tight fitting zip lock bags, releasing all the air. Label and date the bags and set them upright in the freezer in a container that will hold them just until the soup has frozen.  I’m also making a double batch of meatball to show both versions of my Italian Wedding Soup. This recipe yields 30 meatballs. If you only want to use half the amount of meatballs, let them come to room temperature. Next, place them in the frig for 30 minutes to chill. Then place them in a tight zip lock plastic bag, releasing any air, and place them into the freezer.

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The one thing that I believe is important when making meatballs, is to mix all the flavoring first into a bowl.  Once all the flavorings have been mixed together, it should have the consistency of, if you’ll pardon the expression, “mud like”. Then I’ll add in the ground meat. I’ll also use a fork in order to combine the flavorings with the meat. This keeps the meat light and tender. I used to use my hands to mix everything together, but that caused me to over mix and compact the meat too much. Taking a fork to combine the ingredients, takes a few minutes longer but it’s well worth it. Your meatballs will be light and tender. I line two  baking sheets with parchment paper and allow a little space between the meatballs for even cooking. I spray the tops with a light spray of non-stick cooking spray to help them brown evenly. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, I utilize this time for chopping all my veggies. To start, I have two heavy bottom soup pots on the stove set on med heat. I now also, have all my veggies ready to go. It’s the standard Mirepoix, onions celery, and carrots, along with some minced garlic. To each pot I’ve added some olive oil. I throw in the onions first to start them softening. Once they’ve started to soften I add in all the other veggies. At this point I season with salt and pepper. I let everything saute for about 5-7 minutes before adding in the low sodium chicken stock. I’m using chicken stock instead of broth for a deeper chicken flavor. I also kept the rind from the grated cheese that I added earlier into the meatballs. It’s great to throw them into soups and stews for depth of flavor. To both pots, I add in the chicken stock. I bring this up to a bubble and reduce to a simmer. Now it’s time the meatballs come out of the oven. Carefully, add half the meatballs (15) to each pot. Let this simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Next, add the pasta. Mini Ravioli, and Dittilini to the other.  Give each pot a big stir. The pasta will start to float when it cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Lastly, I add  one package of the thawed frozen spinach,that’s been squeezed of any excess water, to each pot and stir it around gently. Turn the heat off and cover until your ready to serve.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 375 degrees F. for meatballs- 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 50-60 minutes total
Yields: 30 meatballs
Note: If only making one pot, use 1-1/2 pounds of ground chicken (15 meatballs) otherwise freeze the other 15.

Ingredients: For Meatballs
3 pounds of ground chicken
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of fresh basil pesto ( in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, next to the fresh pasta)
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
3 cloves of freshly grated garlic
2 tablespoons of Ketchup
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese ( Parmigiano- Reggiano)
2 cups of Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup of freshly chopped Italian parsley

Ingredients for soup:
Note: cut recipe in half, for one pot of soup,  with the exception of the pasta. Choose which pasta you want to use. Use only 1-1/2 pounds of ground chicken for 15 meatballs.
4 tablespoons olive oil ( 2 per pot)
2 cups of diced onions
2 cups of diced carrots
2 cups of diced celery
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 quarts plus 4 cups of low sodium chicken stock
2 cups of Dittilini pasta ( short cut tube pasta in one pot)
1-24 ounce package of mini cheese ravioli ( int the other pot)
2 packages of thawed frozen spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Start with a large bowl and add all the ingredients in for the flavoring to make the meatballs. Once everything is in the bowl mix well. You want the flavorings to have a slightly wet “mud like consistency. Next add the ground meat to the bowl. Using a fork, mix the flavoring through the ground chicken. It may take a few minutes but your meatballs with be light and tender. Using a small scoop to measure out then roll them into golf size balls. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay the meatballs on the baking sheet with space between each one. Lightly spray the top of the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray to ensure they will brown nicely. Place the meatballs in the oven. While they are cooking, dice all the veggies and mince the garlic. On med heat, prepare your pot(s) with the olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes. Add the diced onions in. Let them start to soften before adding in the rest of the veggies. Give all the veggies and garlic a big stir and add the Kosher salt and black pepper. Let saute for 5-7 minutes. Next, add in the liquid. If you have the cheese rind left from grating the cheese go ahead and throw that into your pot(s).  Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. At this point, the meatballs will be ready to come out of the oven. Add the meatballs to the pot(s) very carefully. Let them simmer on med low for another 15 minutes. Now it’s time to add the pasta. Throw in your pasta of choice, or both if you’re making two pots like I have. Carefully give the pasta a big stir. Let this cook for another 8-10 minutes. Once the pasta floats to the top, it’s time to add in the drained thawed frozen spinach. Again, carefully give the spinach a good stir to incorporate it through the soup. Turn the heat off and cover until your ready to serve.

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Eton Mess By Way Of Italy

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This dessert is one of my favorite to serve whenever I have guests over. I think it’s the “WOW” affect it has.

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I just set up some pretty serving glasses on a sheet pan. Next, I break up the Biscotti using a small mallet. In a large bowl I add all the berries (reserving back a couple of each of the fresh berries for the top) and the hulled and quartered strawberries. To the berries I add some granulated sugar. I toss the berries and sugar together. Let the berries macerate in the sugar for a couple of minutes. While the berries are macerating,  I mix the Mascarpone with powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest together. Then it’s just a matter of assembling the dessert in the glasses. I start with a spoonful of the crumbled Biscotti, next, a spoonful of the Mascarpone mixture. Then a spoonful of the berries. Repeat this process ending with a few of the reserved fresh berries and the crumbled Biscotti on the top. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. I feel this dessert is served better if it’s chilled, so I refrigerate the Italian Eton Mess, for a least 15 minutes, before serving.

Yields 6 serving
Prep Time: 15 minutes

1 box chocolate turtle Biscotti (10 cookies)
2- 8 ounce containers room temperature Mascarpone
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 pint of blackberries
1/2 pint of blueberries
1/2 pint of raspberries
10  large strawberries hulled and quartered
2 sprigs of fresh mint.

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Autumn Squash Soup

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This soup is so delicious and is a great way to ring in the fall season. I serve it with a drizzle of E.V.O.O,  homemade Ciabatta croutons, fresh chives, and roasted Pepitas, Mexican pumpkin seeds. I also make a few grilled Mozzarella cheese sandwiches for dunking. I’ts a nice way to let your family and guests customize their soup. There are a few steps in making this soup, but they are all really easy.

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The first step is to roast off the butternut squash. I have two squash because I need 6 heaping cups of diced squash. I peel the squash, clean out the seeds and cut them all into about 1-1/2 inch cubes, so they’ll roast evenly. I spread them out on sheet pans in 1 layer, drizzle olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper on them. I toss them with my hands so they all get well coated. I place them into a preheated 425 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. They just need to  caramelize and be fork tender.

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So while the butternut squash is in the oven I start on the base for my soup. I add garlic and a sweet onion that I’ve diced up into a food processor. I pulse those until they are pureed. Transfer the pureed onion and garlic to a bowl and get my soup pot ready. To the pot, on med heat, I add 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with ground cumin and ground chipotle powder. Once the oil becomes fragrant, I add the pureed onion mixture to the pot. I stir all this together so the onion mixture get nicely coated with the spices. While this sautes for a couple of minutes, I add in Kosher salt and brown sugar. I mix those spices to combine. At this point, I turn the heat down to warm while I take the squash out of the oven.

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You can see how the butternut squash has become nice and caramelized. In batches, I add the roasted squash to the food processor, then transfer it all to a bowl. Once it’s all been processed, I turn the heat, on the pot, back up to med and add the pureed butternut squash to the pot. I mix that through with the sauteed onions. Next, I add in pumpkin puree and stir that through.

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Now for the liquid, I add over a quart of low sodium chicken broth to the pot and stir this through. I bring the soup up to a very low boil, stirring continuously. Then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Next, I add in a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream for some richness. I give that a big stir, then turn the heat off and cover to keep warm. Soup’s ready. While it’s staying nice and warm, I toast off some Pepitas on a sheet pan. I just spread them out evenly and place them into a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes or until you can smell them. I also have some fresh chives that I finely minced and Ciabatta croutons. Recipe for croutons at http://lindalou amel.com/2015/11/02/homemade-ciabatta-croutons/

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Yields: 4-6 servings
Total Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Equipment: Food Processor, sheet pans, 6 qt soup pot

6 heaping cups of diced roasted butternut squash
1 cup of pureed onions (1-1/2 large diced onions)
2 cloves of pureed garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder ( add more if you like more heat)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
chives for garnish
roasted Pepitas for garnish
Ciabatta croutons (optional)
Mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches (optional)

First, clean and dice the butternut squash. Spread 3 cups of dice squash per sheet pan.  Season 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, per sheet pan. Toss everything together and roast off. in a preheated 425 degree oven, for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender and caramelized. While that’s roasting puree the diced onion and garlic. Next, pull the squash out of the oven and add to food processor in batches. Transfer the squash puree to a bowl. Have soup pot ready on med heat. Add the spices to the olive oil and and stir them through until fragrant. To the oil, add in the pureed onions and Kosher salt. Stir through until the onions pick up the flavor of the spices, a couple of minutes or so. Then add in the Kosher salt and brown sugar. Stir to combine. To that, add in the butternut squash puree. Combine the squash with the onions and then to that add the pumpkin puree and stir. Still on med heat, add the low sodium chicken broth stirring that through. Bring the soup up to a low boil then reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 15 minutes.  Next, add in the heavy cream. Once more stir the cream to combine, turn the heat off, and cover to stay warm. Finally prepare the Pepitas and chopped chives. The soup, by itself, is gluten free.

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Homemade Vinaigrette Recipes, Lemon, Balsamic, And Cilantro Lime ( Video)

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