Lightened Up Italian Wedding Soup

Please pay no attention to the fact that my work table is apparently crooked! This Italian Wedding Soup was so easy and so fast! It's a little bit on the "light and brothy" side for Harry, but I made up a batch of calzones to go with it and the meal was hearty and satisfying.

I love Italian Wedding Soup, but I've only ever had it in restaurants. So, I had to turn to the web looking for inspiration. The first recipe I found via Pinterest turned me off - it suggested adding beaten eggs to the finished soup, similar to Hot & Sour or Egg Drop Soup. That definitely didn't ring any bells for me so I kept searching. I actually found this one at Cooksdotcom and it gave me a good starting point.

I had our homemade chicken stock in the fridge but decided to go with canned vegetable broth instead to cut down the fat content. I've made my own vegetable stock but I'm usually money ahead to use the canned stuff (very rare!). I used our own meatball mix that I froze in bulk for this purpose, but you could easily use turkey meatballs to cut down on the fat some more or frozen meatballs of your pleasure. The seasonings in the meatballs were just right to flavor the broth and I only added a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

I'm starting with raw meatballs and borrowing a tip from my friend Pam - she never browns her meatballs before adding them to sauce or soup. After the broth came to a simmer, I gently added the meatballs and remembered to stir gently so I did break them up. They cooked beautifully and I think it helped them release their flavors.

I'm always trying to sneak vegetables into our meals and this soup is no exception. I knew we probably wouldn't eat a whole bunch (head?) of spinach before it went bad and didn't want to go to heavy with it in here. We were in a Kroger that had a salad bar so I just bought enough to tightly fill a one-cup measure. Hey, it only cost 23 cents!

And the rest of the veggies I snuck in - every little bit helps!

Lightened-Up Italian Wedding Soup Recipe

1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
3 cans (15-ish ounces) vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 pound small meatballs
1/2 cup dry orzo (or broken spaghetti)
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh leaf spinach

In a medium saucepan, saute the celery, carrot and onion in olive oil just until softened. Add the vegetable broth and water, then bring it to a simmer.

Gently add the meatballs, then allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Increase the heat to medium.

Add the orzo, stirring gently and cook until orzo is al dente, about 10 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spinach just before serving.If you're feeling really indulgent, feel free to top the Italian Wedding Soup with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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