Italian Wedding Soup
"Comfort food" means different things to different people. Some love hearty foods like mac and cheese, while others love a giant stack of pancakes. Now, cookies are probably my favorite thing to eat, BUT soup is one of the most comforting foods for me. It has to be really good homemade soup though. When I was growing up my mom would make the best homemade chicken noodle soup when we were home sick from school. There is nothing like homemade soup to make you feel better, in my opinion. I actually came up with this recipe when I was sick, and since my mom lives in Michigan, I had to take care of myself. Homemade chicken noodle soup takes way too long, and I didn't have the energy for that. So, I looked in my refrigerator, and put together my own version of Italian Wedding Soup.
Being an Italian girl, you would think that I would know the history of this soup, but I actually had to do some research, and actually found out some interesting facts. Most people think that this soup is served at Italian weddings for good luck, but that isn't actually the case. The Italian name for it is "minestra maritata" which means "married soup," and the meaning got lost in translation. It actually refers to the marriage of the ingredients since meat and green veggies go so well together. You can't always guarantee a marriage will last, but you can guarantee that when you put together this combination of ingredients there will definitely be eternal love. It is so Italian to love food this much!
The Italian secret to good sauces and soups...the rind of parmesan cheese. Adding it to sauces adds a perfectly salty, savory, rich, flavor that you can't get from anything else. Simply placing the rind into the sauce or soup while it simmers will add that great flavor. I use parmesan like a crazy person, and when I get down to the rind, I put it in a freezer safe bag, and store it in the freezer for when I need it.
What it is really like being a blogger...with a toddler!
Italian Wedding Soup
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes; optional
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg; room temperature
1 slice of fresh bread (I use whole wheat), crust cut off, soaked in a little bit of milk until completely saturated
1 pound organic ground turkey (see note below)
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 large onion (the other half that was used from the meatballs), finely chopped
1 large celery stalks, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bunch kale, stem removed, washed, and chopped (spinach or escarole can be used instead)
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups chicken stock
**you can use all chicken or all vegetable if you would like**
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained from the can
Rind from a block of parmesan; see note below
***Note on meat: You can really use any meat you like… pork, chicken, beef, turkey. You can even combine. I like pork and beef together.
***Note on using a cheese rind: When you buy a block of cheese it has a hard rind on the end that is usually thrown away. Instead, I like to freeze mine and then add them into sauces or soups. It gives the soup a depth of flavor you can’t really get from anything else. This is an Italian secret! If you don't have one handy, then add more cheese at the end.
Preheat oven to 375
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add in the finely chopped onion with a sprinkle of salt; cook until softened, then add in the minced garlic clove and cook for about 30 seconds, set aside to cool
Combine the cooled cooked onion, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, parmesan, salt, and egg, and soaked bread in a large bowl
Mix together so that the egg is mixed well; the piece of bread breaks up; and everything is well incorporated
Add in the turkey and ground black pepper and use a fork to mix until just combined; being careful not to over mix or the meatballs won't be tender
Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and use a small scoop or spoon to scoop out the meat mixture onto the prepared sheets
Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes depending on their size (you should get about 30 meatballs give or take)
Meanwhile prepare the soup:
Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat
Once melted add the onion, carrot and celery
Sprinkle with a little salt and allow to soften; about 8 minutes
Add the garlic, thyme, oregano and cook for about 30 seconds; careful not to burn the garlic
Add the chopped kale and allow to soften for a minute or two
Add the vegetable stock, chicken stock, tomatoes, cheese rind (if using) and meatballs
Bring to a slight boil then lower to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes (You can eat it right away, but it does taste better after it simmers a bit and the flavors come together)
Add salt and pepper to taste