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Ciao's Chow: Italian Wedding (Meatball) Soup

Ciao's Meatball Soup

This soup is known as the Italian Wedding Soup but is very similar to other country's favorite soup.  There are many variations but the staples are meatballs, greens and spices.  There's plenty of room in the pot for anything you have left over.   My recipe includes...

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (80/20 lean) 
1/2 lbs ground sausage  (optional if too much fat)
2 cartons beef broth (32 oz. each)
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion (chop half for meatballs and half for soup broth)
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, whisked
1/3 cup milk if needed for moisture
1/3 cup any Chardonnay or red wine
Half bag fresh spinach
2 bay leaves
Dried Oregano and Thyme
Fresh basil and parsley for garnish
Fresh ground pepper
Dried Chili pepper flakes
Olive Oil
(You can omit many of the spices if you use an Italian Seasoning mixture)
Meatballs:  Begin by mixing the beef, sausage, eggs, milk, crumbs, half the onions, pinch of salt and ground pepper in a bowl.  Roll out the small meatballs and place on wax paper.  Heat olive oil on bottom of large soup pan add one batch (10-12) meatballs.  Keep turning lightly with large slotted spoon.   Remove from pan onto paper towels to drain.  Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.  You can make a day ahead if you like.
Holy Trinity! Cook the reserved garlic, onions, carrots, celery in the same oil and pan for several minutes.  Add the meatballs back into the pan on top of the trinity mixture. Add Oregano, pinches of thyme, red pepper flakes. 
Add the wine and some broth just enough to cover the meatballs and simmer 5 minutes. Add the rest of the broth, bay leaves and simmer 30 minutes.            
During the last 10 minutes,  add any of your leftovers such as raw or cooked pasta (cut up), cut green beans, canned white beans or spinach.  Serve with some of that great fresh artisan bread from the store or bakery!  
Variations:  you can use chicken stock instead of beef stock; if you like thicker broth, add two tablespoons flour in the trinity mixture.  No tomatoes were used in the making of this dish, however, you may throw in a can of San Marzanos if you wish.

Prepare all of your ingredients basil plant was a bit spindly but I was able to rescue some leaves.

I roll out my meatballs using about the size of a tablespoon to measure. I place them on wax paper.  When cooking I place about 10 at one time in the pan.  Don't crowd them as you need to be able to turn them as they brown.  Use a slotted tablespoon if you have one and get into an easy scoop and flip  groove!

A little tip:  throw your cut up veggies into the same bowl you previously mixed your meatballs in to save from using several bowls.  I only used this bowl and the pan for cooking the soup.  Very simple clean up!

After you brown the meatballs on all sides remove them from the pan.  Add the trinity (veggies) mix in the pan and saute.  Place the meatballs back on the trinity mixture and fill with broth and wine to just cover the top.  Let it simmer about 5 minutes just so the wine can kiss the meatballs.  Did you notice my onions are red?  I always use the yellow onion for cooking but had none left after I put it into the meatball mixture,  so I had to use the red.  But it was just fine...add the rest of the broth to simmer.

I happen to have some cooked pasta and spinach (optional) on hand so I add quick cooking items like these at the very last.  I used Chardonnay today but feel free to use red wine.  It can be inexpensive wine.  Remember there's room for whatever  you'd like in your pan.

When its ready, garnish the top with parsley and basil and grated parmesan cheese.  I took the photo too quick and forgot my garnish!  

Buono Appetito!


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