Thursday, October 16, 2014

Moving Forward: Italian Wedding Soup

Everything is pretty much done around here with the exception of the physical move. We've been through the negotiations of price and just a very few inspection objections and now we wait for the all important verdict of the appraisal gods. Barring a last minute upset, we will be in a new (to us) house this time next month.

It has pretty much been smooth sailing with all the packing. We have just rented our second storage unit which tells my husband that I have amassed far too much stuff in my lifetime. Never mind that our garage contains more tools and gadgets than a job site on This Old House. We also have enough hiking and camping gear to outfit an army of sherpas on a their way up Everest, but it is my four crates of Halloween decorations that have put us over our lifetime limit of crap, or so it has been insinuated.

I actually kind of like this storage unit thing. Usually by now we are walking through a tunnel of boxes looking for the one that contains printer paper, the blender or the dog's brush. When you take your packed boxes directly to storage there isn't a prayer of finding anything so you just do without, and that builds character, or so I've told my son. He'll be a lot more appreciative of his favorite white T when he sees it again on the other side of this move.

Eating our way through the freezer is going relatively well too. We've had some strange combinations lately and no one has given me any attitude about it. I think they know that if they ever want to see said white t-shirt, or their precious, all important and totally necessary baseball card collection again, they need to retain their sense of humor and be nice to the cook.

So, the next protein that popped up in my freezer line up just so happened to be a 1 pound package of ground turkey. I'm not really big on turkey burgers, but I love me some turkey meatballs and when I make turkey meatballs, they always end up in Wedding Soup. Not only will this soup recipe help me to clear out the freezer, but it also gives me an opportunity to use up one of the eight, count 'em EIGHT, partial boxes of pasta in my pantry, and the scraps of veggies in the crisper in a most delicious way.

This might just be the last dish on our table that makes sense for awhile, because the pickins' are getting mighty slim. Looks like a whole lot of something from nothing will be going on around here soon. You know I'll keep you posted on what I come up with.

Italian Wedding Soup

This popular Italian-American soup is named so not because it is served at weddings, but because it is the perfect marriage of meat and vegetables, and I couldn't agree more. Usually I am a fan of cream or tomato based soups, but this brothy soup has me totally won over.

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 of a medium size yellow onion, grated or very finely chopped
1 slice of sandwich bread, grated into breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon cream (optional)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 - 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl place ground turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, cream (if using), Parmesan, Italian seasoning, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until ingredients are just combined. Divide mixture into slightly heaping tablespoons. Roll each portion into a ball and place in baking dish, leaving as much room as possible between them.

Place baking dish into the preheated oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, turning them half way through. After baking time, remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.

Makes approximately 24 meatballs.

2 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 bay leaf
1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
2/3 cup dried ditalini pasta

Pour oil into a large stockpot set over medium high heat. When oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, celery and carrot. Stirring frequently, cook the vegetables for 2 - 3 minutes or until they start to sweat.

Add the chicken stock, fennel seed and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cooked meatballs, Swiss chard and pasta. Replace cover and cook until pasta is al dente, approximately 12 minutes.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese if desired.

Makes approximately 8 servings

Just a small footnote here: Even though I like my meatballs browned just a little, I also sometimes poach them in the soup liquid instead of baking them and they turn out just fine. If you'd like to try this, gently drop the uncooked meatballs into the stock at the same time you add the fennel seed and bay leaf. Gently simmer them for the remainder of the soup's cooking time and they will be cooked through and tender.

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