I was in the mood for a new soup last week so I did a little googling to find out about one of my friend’s favorites, Italian Wedding Soup. Ree Drummond’s recipe (The Pioneer Woman) used spinach and since I had a huge bag from Chance Farm, we had a match! Don’t let the thought of making the meatballs throw you off, they cook quickly and taste nice with the broth, pasta, spinach, and lemon—a good marriage indeed.
Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from original at The Pioneer Woman
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound mild Italian sausage, bulk
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs or Panko
- 1 egg
- leaves from a few sprigs of parsley, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced and mashed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, about ½ teaspoon each
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2–3 carrots, peeled and chopped or sliced into rounds
- 2–3 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, about 1 teaspoon each
- 8 cups chicken or beef broth or some of each I use one 16-ounce Bare Bones or Kettle and Fire beef bone broth, one chicken, and 4 cups water since these products are more concentrated than typical store-bought broths. I also like Swanson, especially the Low-Sodium Chicken Broth and Imagine brand.
- 1 cup pearl couscous or small pasta
- several handfuls of fresh spinach, baby or regular if larger leaves, tear out the rib/stem, and tear into smaller pieces
- 40 reserved, cooked meatballs
- ½ fresh lemon
For garnish: Italian parsley, lovage or sorrel or shiso (if you have them), and Parmesan
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil to make cleanup easier.
Mix together the meats, breadcrumbs or Panko, Parmesan, egg, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Roughly portion meat into quarters and with each, roll 10 meatballs, a bit smaller than 1-inch in diameter, for a total of 40 meatballs. Bake for 8 minutes and broil for an additional 2 minutes, until browned and fully cooked (internal temp at least 160°). Set aside.
Heat oil in a soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
Add the broths and bring to a boil. Add the pearl couscous or pasta, lower heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 8 minutes, until couscous/pasta is just tender.
Add the spinach and simmer a minute to wilt. Add the cooked meatballs and simmer a couple minutes until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Top with parsley and/or other herby greens like lovage, sorrel, or Shiso, and shaved or grated Parmesan.