Delicious Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken & Meatballs
Here’s a quintessential Italian-American classic that’s just what cold fingers and toes need to warm up!
Winter has arrived with some gusto this year. And why not post a ‘wedding soup’ on Valentine’s Day?! Just a bit of fun is all. The term itself is a misrepresentation the Italian soup that means the ‘marriage of ingredients i.e. meat and veggies’ v/s it being served at a wedding!
Traditionally, it also includes some form of slightly bitter leafy greens like escarole and egg is also added to create lacy ribbons within the soup. No matter which recipe you follow succulent meatballs are a staple though traditionally it was much heavier on meat unlike the American-Italian version where we just do with the meatballs.
I never make mine with leafy greens. My youngest, doesn’t do too well with bitter flavors. But a couple of things are key: a great stock at its foundation where we simmer a whole chicken to create flavorful stock. And then what‘s better to do than shred it all up and dump it back in the soup.
Next, add a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano and Italian sausage in my meatballs (polpettes) because the pork keeps them succulent as opposed to if you just used ground beef. Instead of elbow pasta that swells and takes over the whole soup, Acini de pepe is my fave – those little pasta pearls that look like Israeli couscous adds a lovely texture to the soup without being overwhelming. (though like all starches, the more it sits in the soup, the more it’ll drink up the stock)
Just a little bit of diced tomatoes, succulent meatballs, the pasta and at its foundation a robust stock and you’ve got the making of one fabulous one-dish-meal soup. And why just a little bit of diced tomatoes you ask? Because a little goes a long way and all Italian soups don't have to end up like Minestrone!
Hope you curl up with a big bowl of this soup to warm your belly and your soul.
Happy Valentine’s Day, dearies!
Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken & Meatballs
1 whole chicken
3 stalks celery, leaves and all, sliced
1 onion, diced
1-1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1-1/2 tsp onion powder
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
6 parsley stalks
2-3 whole dried bay leaves
½ tbs salt
2 tsp black peppercorns
14 cups water
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
½ lb hot Italian sausage (no casings)
1 large egg
1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (from carton)
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, packed
1/2 cup red onion, cut up in chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 qty 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup Acini de Pepe pasta
Onions - Peel, discard skin & ends and chop into ½” chunks.
Carrots: Peel and cut into ½” circles
Celery: Discard bottom 2” and any brown tips and cut into 1” pieces, leaves and all.
Parsley, garlic & onion for meatballs: Chop fine in a food processor along with the red onion and set aside.
In a large stock pot, place the whole chicken in the pot with all of the soup ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot with a lid allowing the steam to escape. Simmer for 1 hour on medium-low heat.
Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Cook’s tip:Process to combine thoroughly using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer if possible.
Make a small patty and pan fry in a non-stick pan to taste and adjust seasonings.
Using a 1 tbs measuring spoon, measure out the meat mixture and form into one inch meatballs by rolling between palms of the hands.
Place on a baking tray apart and cover with kitchen towel or cling wrap so they don’t dry out.
After the hour, remove chicken to a plate to cool slightly until able to handle. Sieve the stock and return to the stock pot.
Remove the carrots only from the sieve and mash lightly with a fork returning to the stock.
Add the diced tomatoes, pasta and meatballs & bring the soup to a boil on high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium-high & simmer for about 12 minutes until meatballs & pasta are cooked through.
Shred the chicken meat with 2 forks or clean hands. Discard the bones.
To the soup, add the chicken, and taste and adjust the seasonings.
Serve with more shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and fresh chopped parsley if desired.