An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook

11.08.2011

Italian Wedding Soup


Speaking of feeling extremely fortunate...I have two topics to discuss.  First off, I was very lucky to receive an invitation to the Taste of Tulalip Tweet Up last month, cataloging the menu for the upcoming Taste of Tulalip happening this weekend.  I have always heard praises about the food at Tulalip Casino, but haven't had the opportunity to indulge.  So it was a real treat to have a menu sampling all the goods.  It was so lovely to sit down at the table to be immediately hydrated with a glass of Cristal.  The next course was my favorite...I was confused because it looked as though they were serving us espresso, which seemed strange at the beginning of the night.  But to my pleasant surprise it was Italian Wedding soup.  I have never seen it served in such a creative way...each of the meatballs were skewered on a decorative toothpick.  And you could either spoon or drink the rest of the soup.  The next day I asked Allan for the recipe.  I had to make this for my next dinner party.  We finished the night off with coffee and pistachio nitrogen ice cream served in mini waffle cones, with a side of homemade malted milk balls.  I mean, can it get any better than that?  So if you have the opportunity to go to Taste of Tulalip next weekend...go!




The other order of business is to express how fortunate I am for having such good girlfriends in my life.  M, K, M and C came over to my house last Saturday night for a bon voyage party for M.  She is going on an extended vacation, so we needed to see her off in style...which naturally meant an extravagant dinner, free-flowing wine, lots of laughter and ending the night watching/dancing to YouTube videos.  The picture above was the dinner table right before the  festivities began.  You will have to use your imagination to envision the table four hours later.  It was a perfect occasion to make the Italian Wedding Soup which was accompanied by Arugula Steak Salad and a homemade olive and Parmesan appetizer.  The next course was salmon (for the fish eaters) and baked butternut squash with shallots and a parsley dressing.  Yes. It was an amazing meal.  Cheers to M, K, M and C...you know who you are.  Thank you for a lovely Saturday night.


Italian Wedding Soup
Yields 8-12 servings
Adapted from Taste of Tulalip's Tweet Up Menu


The original recipe calls for chicken stock and shredded chicken in the stock.  But there was a request from one of the guests to not include chicken in any of the recipes.  So I eliminated it and made my own vegetable stock.  And we completely didn't miss the chicken either, especially with the meatballs and the egg whites.  That brings me to another point.  Approach the egg white action at the end of the soup recipe with confidence and ease.  I thought it sounded a little strange, but alas, it is quite a nice addition to the recipe.

Meatballs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp onions, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/4# lean ground beef (good quality grass fed)
1/4# ground pork (good quality local)
3 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
Olive oil for sauteing the meatballs

Pull the meats out of the refrigerator as you begin to prepare all the other ingredients.  Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saute pan on medium heat.  Pour in 1 Tbsp olive oil and allow to warm up.  Add in the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes.  Sprinkle in the oregano, basil and thyme and saute for another minute.  Turn off heat and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl,  combine the beef and pork with the remaining ingredients.  Add in the sauteed herbed onions and garlic.  Mixing with your hands is the most efficient (and fun) way to integrate all the ingredients.  Keep in mind to not over mix because it will make the meatballs tough.

Now for the rolling process.  First get yourself a little bowl of water with a splash of olive oil in it.  Dip your hands into it so that when you are working with the meat, you hands have a nice oiled surface.  Take a little bit of the meat and roll it into a gumball sized ball.  You can vary the size depending on how you will be presenting the soup.  But little meatballs are fun.  Make sure that there are no cracks in the meatball after you roll it so it doesn't fall apart when you cook it. 

Heat a large saute pan on medium heat.  Add in a thick layer of olive oil and heat to a medium heat.  Carefully place the meatballs into the pan and saute until they are fully cooked.  Be sure to flip them over so all the surfaces get cooked.  Also keep the heat on medium because you don't want super hot oil burning the meatballs.  Cut one in half to make sure it is fully cooked.  Line a plate with paper towels and place the cooked meatballs in it to drain a little.  Set aside.

The Soup
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
8 cups good quality or homemade vegetable (or chicken) broth
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh kale, roughly chopped
1 cup dry pasta (any variety you like...I used orecchiette)
Meatballs (from above recipe)
4 egg whites
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp Parmesan Reggiano

In a Dutch Oven or large heavy bottomed pot, turn the heat up to medium and pour in the olive oil.  Saute the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and basil for about 5 minutes.  Add in the broth and simmer covered for 30 minutes.  During this time, follow the instructions on the label for your pasta of choice and cook al dente.  Strain and set aside.

Add the red pepper flakes, kale, cooked pasta and meatballs to the soup.  Carefully pour in the egg whites and let them simmer without stirring until you begin to see them cook...this takes 5-10 minutes.  After they have begun to cook, whisk to break them apart and fully integrate into the soup.  Adjust seasonings, add salt and pepper and Parmesan Reggiano.

Serve in little coffee cups with a few meatballs skewered for an appetizer size or in larger cups or bowls for a hearty meal alongside a salad.


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