Let me preface this post by proclaiming that, no, I am not in any way Italian. In fact, I have likely never had Italian Wedding Soup made by a real Italian person. If it’s on the menu I’ll order it, and that’s how this recipe came to be. I ordered some Italian Wedding Soup one time in some random restaurant and thought to myself, “I can make this shit”. So don’t go calling up your Nona and having her rush over to correct all the ways I’ve gone wrong. When you taste this soup you’ll get how oh-so-right it is.
Here are your ingredients:
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 bag fresh spinach
- 2 small onions
- 1 egg
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- Parmesan cheese (I like the grated stuff)
- Celery, 2 cups, chopped
- Carrots, 2 cups, chopped
- Mushrooms (I use cremini, you use your favorite), 2 cups, chopped
- 1 bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
- fresh or “squeezy” basil
- Chicken stock
- Acini de Pepe pasta
Now, let’s get started on your meatballs. These tender turkey meatballs are flavored heavily with basil and parmesan and it will take all you’ve got not to devour them out of the pan before returning them to your soup.
To your pound of ground turkey (use all white meat ground turkey for an even more low fat version of this soup!) add a tablespoon of “squeezy” basil. This is basil from a tube that can be found in most all grocery stores’ herb sections. I like this stuff because I don’t have to grow it or keep it alive and it has a pretty damn long shelf life in the door of my fridge. Tastes as close to the fresh stuff as you’re ever gonna get, in my humble opinion.
Next, you were probably wondering why there was a whole wheat hamburger bun in the ingredients picture. That’s because I thought I had panko bread crumbs but I was in fact, wrong (note the time and date, this doesn’t happen often). So, I used my food processor to grind up a hamburger bun for fresh breadcrumbs. Use panko or fresh…they’re lighter and will make for a much lighter and more tender meatball.
Add those breadcrumbs to your turkey along with an egg.
Now I like to break out my food processor to get the tiniest of possible chops on the veggies that go in these little meatballs. First, a small onion, cut in 8ths. Into the processor it goes.
Next, about 5 toes of garlic.
Then, a big handful of fresh parsley.
Now get your grind on. Scrape down the side and pulse a few more times. You’re looking for tee-tiny little pieces. Nothing so big it will take long to cook through.
Add all that aromatic goodness to your meatball mix and open your spice cabinet. It’s time to season. You want to add about a teaspoon of kosher salt, a 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper (you can use black pepper, too), and a teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning.
Now to that add about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and get to mixing. Now you’re ready to make meatballs.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and the best I can tell you is to make your meatballs about the size of one human testicle. You can see that my meatball mix made about 24 testicle-sized meatballs. Yum.
Heat some olive oil over medium/medium-low heat on the stove in a heavy bottomed pot (use the same pot you’ll use for your soup!) and add your meatballs in shifts. Don’t crowd the balls, folks. They need room to breathe. I did mine in 3 shifts. It’s a lot of ball work, but if you’re not already, you’ll be a pro like me in no time. Now just brown those balls on all sides and add them to a plate set aside (Not the plate with the raw meatballs. Jesus. Basic food safety here, folks).
Now if you’re good like me, you’ll be prepping and chopping your soup vegetables while the meatballs cook. I chopped about 2 cups of carrots and celery, as seen below. You know how chunky you like your veggies in your soup. Just chop ’em how you like ’em.
Next, 2 cups chopped onion and 1 chopped pepper. I like to use either red, orange or yellow. Today at the store, for whatever reason, the yellow ones were about 16 cents cheaper. So, after this, I’m headed straight to the bank, baby.
Next, chop about 7 toes of garlic and about 2 cups of mushrooms. I keep the mushrooms separate from the other chopped vegetables because I add them later in the cooking process.
Congratulations! You’ve completed all your cutting and chopping for the evening! And by now all your meatballs should be perfectly done and smelling your entire house up like garlic, basil and parmesan cheese.
Leave the little brown bits left behind from your meatballs in the pot and dump in your chopped veggies, with the exception of the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and add about 1/2 cup of white wine. Don’t go judging my fancy wine selection, here. Feel free to use any white wine that you would also drink…that doesn’t leave much out for me as you can clearly see from the plastic container with peel back, yogurt-style, foil lid. Let the wine simmer over medium heat for a few minutes and scrape up all the meatball yumminess that is stuck to the bottom of your pot.
After about 5 minutes of cooking, go ahead and add your mushrooms and cover the whole pot, leaving about 2-3 of space from the top, with delicious, homemade chicken stock. Simmer this for about another 7-10 minutes.
Now, let’s add some spinach. You’re going to add about 3/4 of your bag of fresh spinach at this point. Tear the spinach into smaller pieces with your bare hands. Grunt loudly as you do it in a show of strength. Stir that in and give it a minute or two to incorporate.
Now, add your meatballs back in to the pot. Also add any meaty juice that may have collected on your plate. That’s good shit. Let this all cook together over a simmer for about 10 minutes. You’re spinach will get all wilty and delicious.
Next, you’re going to add a 1/2 cup of uncooked acini de pepe pasta directly to the simmering pot. This tiny, ball-shaped pasta got its name because it looks like little peppercorns. They’re adorable and I love them. Cook the pasta for the recommended time on the back of the box or until tender, then add the last 1/4 bag of spinach, grunting loudly again to let everyone in the house know what a complete badass you are. If no one’s in the house with you, grunt louder so the neighbors can hear. Stir that spinach in and you’re all done!
Ladle yourself a delicious bowl of Wedding Soup and top with a little more parmesan cheese…because you deserve it. Voila!