Sunday, November 6, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Today’s post is a Guest Post by the lovely and talented Jennifer Currie. Jennifer lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughter. She is a true food enthusiast in many ways. Welcome the crisp Fall weather by enjoy her amazing soup and remember to share the love. ~ Jennifer Griffith

I could eat soup every day and at any time of day. And sometimes I do! There's just nothing like a steaming hot bowl of savory, soulful, comforting love! So as this time of year approaches, I can't wait to bust out my big red pot and go to town on whatever ingredients happen to be swirling around in my head to make my all time favorite comfort food: SOUP!

One of my absolute favorite soups is Italian Wedding; it's so hearty and flavorful. It's also versatile and super simple to make. You can make it with turkey, beef, pasta or beans. This recipe has two of my favorite ingredients; meatballs and dark greens. I have been on a really big Bison kick lately, so I chose to make these meatballs with this delicious meat.

Bison is much leaner than beef and has a full flavor that will add a little richness to your broth. My favorite greens to use in this soup are Kale, preferably Dino Kale, but you could certainly use whatever green you like. Try Escarole, Swiss Chard, or Spinach. Dark greens are a great source of antioxidants, so you can't go wrong.

I think most people who have had this soup before have had it with some kind of small pasta like Ditalini or a pearl pasta like Israeli Cous cous. I like to use Cannellini Beans. I just think beans and greens go hand in hand.

Editor’s note: Wouldn’t Beans & Greens be a great name for a restaurant? J

I guarantee after you make this soup, you'll love it and whoever you feed it to will love you for it. And man, is it a great cure for a cold, blustery day! Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup


64 ounces chicken broth
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounces cannellini beans (2, 14 ounce cans)
1 pound kale, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 parmesan or romano cheese rind
1 large bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste

For meatballs:

1 pound ground bison
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese

Coat a large pot with extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent. Next add garlic, celery, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. And the Parmesan/Romano rind,  basil, & another pinch of both salt and pepper, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on.

While all those flavors are combining  in your pot, you're going to make your meatballs.
In a large bowl, combine bison, egg, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper. While combining, add the cheese and breadcrumbs a little at a time. You want to make sure everything is well-combined, but still moist. Make sure you don't work the meat too much or it will become tough. The meatballs should be the size that you would achieve by using a melon-baller. If you have one, great. If not, that's fine. Just use a small spoon to help you measure out the melon-ball-sized meatballs.

Once the meatballs are all rolled out, give that soup a good stir and take out the cheese rind and bay leaf. Then, add the cannellini beans. Bring the soup back up to a boil and start adding the meatballs into the broth. Let the meatballs cook for about 5 minutes (they'll start to float). This is when youre going to add the kale and cook for just another couple of minutes. When the kale begins to wilt into the soup and all of your delicious little meatballs are floating around, the soup is done...well, just about. Turn off the heat. Ladle your servings into bowls and garnish w/freshly chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan or romano cheese.

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