Our first cold-front of the year is coming this week! The humidity will fall to less than tropical levels and the night time temperatures will dip, ever so gingerly into the 60’s. I understand that this doesn’t even register as a blip for most of you, but it’s momentous for South Florida residents. Virtually guaranteed are sweater and winter boot sightings — weird, I know. For me, I’ll use the dip in mercury as an excuse for a hot bowl of Homemade Italian Wedding Soup.
Make fun all you like, but we haven’t had nighttime temperatures below 70° since May 11th (that little factoid was in the paper this morning). This is cause for excitement.
And it’s probably why I’m making the extra effort on this soup. Not that it’s particularly difficult, but I did have to make meatballs ….
These are pork meatballs – but you could use ground beef or even turkey if you prefer. The key to meatballs in a soup is that they need to be bite sized. Small enough to not only fit on your spoon, but also into your mouth. My trick for manageable meatballs that are uniform is a mini ice cream/cookie scoop.
This one scoops about 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground meat into a perfectly portioned meatball. While they’re baking, start in on the soup.
This one starts with a classic mire poix of vegetables and either vegetable or chicken stock.
Homemade Italian wedding soup is known for those savory, meaty little orbs but also tiny pasta and fresh greens. Choose a small — almost minuscule pasta that doesn’t require chewing and simply slides down your throat with the broth.
I’ve seen Italian Wedding Soups that skip this next step, but I’d advise against it. Mixing an egg with some (real) parmesan cheese and drizzling it into the hot broth while stirring — this step adds a richness and viscosity along with pleasing strands of egg.
It gives the broth a cloudy appearance, but one that’s full of flavor.
Just before serving, add fresh spinach leaves and stir until they are wilted.
This is a soup that everyone loves for all the little details. Serve with a little extra parmesan cheese and chewy slices of hot bakery sourdough bread for the ultimate comfort food on a bitterly cold South Florida night — 🙂 .
Italian Wedding Soup
For The Meatballs:
- 1 small onion very finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
For The Soup:
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 10 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth,
- 1 bay leaf
- pork meatballs
- 1 cup pastini or other small pasta like orzo, ditalini, alphabet, or stars
- 1 tablespoon parmigiano reggiano freshly grated + more for serving
- 1 large egg
- 6 ounces fresh spinach
Make The Meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onion and garlic and sweat until the onions soften and the mixture is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat to cool.
- Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine the ground pork, kosher salt, oregano, pepper, red pepper flake, egg, breadcrumbs, milk and parmesan. Add the cooled onion mixture and using clean hands, combine the pork mixture until the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Scoop out meatball mixture by the teaspoon (I use a miniature ice cream/cookie dough scoop to keep the size consistent) and roll into balls. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through, but still soft and tender. Set aside.
Make The Soup:
- In a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions and celery are slightly translucent and softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.
- Add the broth and bay leaf. Cover and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add the meatballs. Simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in the pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente -- according to package instructions, stirring occasionaly.
- In a small bowl, combine the parmesan cheese and egg and whisk together until combined. Stir the soup to create movement and drizzle the egg, cheese mixture into the soup, this will produce loose strands of the egg/cheese amalgam. Stir in the fresh spinach and heat until the spinach wilts.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with additional parmesan cheese if desired.
More Mouthwatering Soups:
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