Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways

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The name, Italian Wedding Soup, stemmed from the combining of meat with pasta. Growing up, in my home, pasta was served separately from the meat dish.

This post will show you everything you need to know about how I make this soup. My secret ingredient, for the most flavorful meatballs, is fresh basil pesto. Surprised!, don’t be, when you break down the ingredients in basil pesto, you’ll find that most of those ingredients are in my meatballs anyway.

I have done variations of my Italian Wedding Soup like, instead of small pasta, I’ve used mini cheese ravioli. It’s a really delicious way to give an extra surprise to the dish.

I think whenever you’re making a recipe that calls for meatballs, it’s important that they are tender and full of flavor.

My basic recipe for meatballs is always the same, whether using ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken. The exceptions are when I make a Greek or Asian dish that calls for meatballs. That’s a story for another time.

I’m going to show you two versions. One made with a short cut pasta called Ditalini, the other  I’m using mini cheese ravioli.

What’s great about making extra is, you can freeze the soup for another time. First label and date the bags. Whenever I freeze a completed soup, I let the soup come to room temperature, transfer the soup into gallon zip lock bags. Release as much of the air as possible, then close the bag. Lay the bag out onto a sheet pan in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the sheet pan and you can stack the bags of soup to utilize freezer space.

I’m also making a double batch of meatballs to show both versions of my Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes (per pot)
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (per pot)
Yields: 30 meatballs (15 meatballs per pot)
Yields:  4 to 6 servings per pot
Equipment: 2 (6-quart) heavy-bottom saucepots,  large mixing bowl, cookie-dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, parchment paper, chef’s knife

Note: For one pot, use half the meatballs. After the meatballs are cooked allow half of them (15 meatballs) to come to room temperature. Place into a resealable zip-lock bag and transfer to the freezer.

Ingredients For Chicken Meatballs:
3 pounds of ground chicken
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 (7-ounce) container of store-bought fresh basil pesto (use 1/4 cup for this recipe)
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 Parmigiano- Reggiano, freshly grated (reserve the rind)
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 fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Note: Cut the 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.

Ingredients For Soup:
4 tablespoons olive oil (2 per pot)
2 cups of onions, diced and divided
2 cups of leafy-top carrots, diced and divided
2 cups of celery, diced (include leafy tops) and divided
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 quarts plus 4 cups of chicken stock, unsalted and divided
2 1/2 cups of Ditalini pasta (short cut tube-shaped pasta in one pot)
1 (24-ounce) package of mini cheese ravioli ( in the other pot)
2 (10-ounce) packages of frozen spinach, thawed and divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper, of each pan, with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients (except the ground chicken) for the meatballs. Once everything is in the bowl mix to combine. You want the flavorings to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, add the ground meat to the bowl. Using a fork, evenly distribute the flavorings throughout the ground chicken. It may take a few minutes but it’s so worth it for your meatballs to be light and tender.

Using a cookie-dough scoop ensures the meatballs will be the same size. Scoop the meat mixture into your hands forming a ball. Continue until all the meatball mixture is finished.

Arrange the meatballs onto two baking sheet pans with space between each one. Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray to ensure they will brown evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

In the meantime prep the *Mirepoix for the soup. Dice the carrots, celery, and onions. Finish by mincing the garlic. Evenly divided, transfer them to two separate plates. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Set aside.

Preheat both stockpots over medium heat. To each stockpot add olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Stirring occasionally, cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.

Next, add the chicken stock to each pot. If you have the cheese rind, leftover from grating the cheese, go ahead and throw that into your pot(s). Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. for 10 minutes.

At this point, the meatballs will be ready to come out of the oven. Add the meatballs to the pot(s) very carefully. Simmer over medium-low heat for another 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to add the (Ditalini, and the mini cheese ravioli) pasta. Carefully give the pasta a big stir. Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Once the pasta floats to the top, it’s time to add the thawed spinach. Again, carefully give the spinach a good stir to incorporate it throughout the soup. Turn the heat off and cover until you’re ready to serve. Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways.

Tip: If you’re only going to use half of the meatballs, let them come to room temperature. Next, place them in the frig for 30 minutes to chill. Label and date the ziplock freezer bag before transferring them to the bag. Release as much of the air as possible, close it up, and place it into the freezer.

*Mirepoix: The standard base for most soups consisting of celery, carrots, and onions.

Nominated “Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipes”

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Chicken Meatball And Kale Stew

 

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Everyone has their own family meatball recipe but this one is a little different because I’ve given these chicken meatballs the flavor of Italian sausage. Chicken is a lot leaner than pork so we are going to cut some fat there, and that’s a good thing. Whenever I make meatballs I almost always make a double batch. It’s really just as easy to double the recipe if you’re going to make them. You can easily freeze the cooked meatballs and then you’ll have them ready to add to any future recipe.

Kale, another superfood, is packed full of vitamins. I feel really good about my Chicken Meatball And Kale Stew,  I just might even have a piece of crusty bread for dipping, Oh yeah!

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Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Cremini Mushrooms

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Yields: 30 meatballs
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven, large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, cookie-dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, parchment paper, chef’s knife

Note: Use half the meatballs for this recipe. After the meatballs are cooked allow half of them (15 meatballs) to come to room temperature. Place into a resealable zip-lock bag and transfer to the freezer.

Ingredients For Chicken Meatballs:
3 pounds of ground chicken
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 7-ounce container of store-bought fresh basil pesto (use 1/4 cup for this recipe)
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
3 cloves of garlic, freshly
2 tablespoons of Ketchup
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated (reserve the rind)
2 cups of Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Ingredients For the Stew:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced (1/4-inch dice)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (1/4-inch chunks)
2 (14.5)-ounce cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 pints of mushrooms, quartered
2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
1 reserved cheese rind, cut in half
1 (9-ounce) box of (Birds Eye) frozen whole artichoke hearts, thawed and quartered
2 bunches of organic kale, chopped (8 to 10 cups)
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch

 

Directions For Chicken Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper, of each pan, with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients (except the ground chicken) for the meatballs. Once everything is in the bowl mix to combine. You want the flavorings to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, add the ground meat to the bowl. Using a fork, evenly distribute the flavorings throughout the ground chicken. It may take a few minutes but it’s so worth it for your meatballs to be light and tender.

Using a cookie-dough scoop ensures the meatballs will be the same size. Scoop the meat mixture into your hands forming a ball. Continue until all the meatball mixture is finished.

Arrange the meatballs onto two baking sheet pans with space between each one. Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray to ensure they will brown evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

In the meantime prep the *Mirepoix for the soup. Dice the carrots, celery, and onions. Finish by mincing the garlic. Next, dice the potatoes and quarter the mushrooms. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Set aside.

In a preheated Dutch oven over medium heat add olive oil, diced onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir until the onions start to soften. Add the diced carrots, mushrooms, Stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently until the mushrooms release their liquid and the carrots begin to soften 12 to 14 minutes. Add the minced garlic cook for 1 minute more.

Add the diced potatoes, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Add both cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and sugar, again stir to combine.

Remove the meatballs from the oven. Gently transfer them into the pot. Add the chicken stock, cheese rind, stir gently.

Still, over medium heat, bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. After 40 minutes add thawed artichokes and chopped kale. The kale may need to be added in stages allowing it to wilt down into the liquid. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

In a small bowl add cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of cold water, mix until smooth and paste-like. Slowly add the cornstarch *slurry into the pot and stir gently so as not to break the meatballs. Again continue to cook until the broth thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve with a piece of crusty bread and you will be in heaven. This is my Chicken Meatball And Kale Stew.

*Slurry is a mixture of a cold liquid with cornstarch, also known as a cornstarch slurry. It’s used as a thickening agent. A typical cornstarch slurry will consist of 2 parts cold water and 1 part cornstarch. A slurry can also be made using equal parts of flour and water.

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