Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mama Mia Meatballs!

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There's nothing like a cold snap to get the soup simmering. At Thanksgiving I made The Barefoot Contessa's Italian Wedding Soup, and it was delish. So I decided to go for it again, with a few changes, of course.

Tonight, I made the meatballs. Now I appreciate what goes in to making these recipes user friendly, but when it calls for 3/4 lb. ground chicken and I buy it in a prepackaged 1lb. package, you have to make some changes. So the recipe that follows is my version. It's just a little easier to use up what you buy, right? The meatballs are kinda dangerous though. They smell fabulous, cook quickly and you can pop 'em in your mouth without even really thinking about it. Which is why I always fight my weight, I never think about those things!
he chicken sausage I use is links from the Fresh Market, they are yummy, and easy to slip the casings off. And the recipe calls for 2 kinds of cheese. I buy my Parmesan Reggiano by the 5# wedge, so why would I deviate from that? I also like to shred it with the bigger holes of the grater rather than the fine powdery grate. I want to taste the most expensive ingredient after all! So combine the mixture and use a small 1" scoop so your meatballs are uniform and line your baking sheets with parchment so clean up is a snap! The original recipe says it makes 40, my version which really isn't a double makes 90. So plenty for the soup, and a few to freeze for a quick pasta. Also, after a day in the fridge, you'll find the tortellini soak up a good amount of the broth, so have extra on hand to keep the soup, well,soupy!
Of course no soup should be without something to mop up the sauce. So I went back to the bread recipes and did some tweaking. Watch for the next post on the bread success and failures.

Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from Back to Basics Barefoot Contessa
1# ground chicken
1# chicken sausage (4links)
1 c. fresh breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 c. fresh Parmesan, shredded
6 T milk
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Combine and drop. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. You better eat one to make sure they are done. Cool and chill until you are ready to make soup. They also freeze beautifully.

1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped carrot
3/4 c. chopped celery
2T olive oil
10 cups chicken broth
1/2 c. white wine
7 oz, bag dried tortellini
2 T. chopped fresh dill
Fresh Spinach
Fresh ground pepper

At least a half hour before dinner, start the soup. You begin with the aromatics. Celery, carrots and onions sauteed in a little olive oil. You don't want to brown them, but sweat them so they release their flavors. You then add the stock and white wine. I usually do this step early and let the broth simmer with the veggies for a few hours. The broth will reduce, and I then pop the lid on after an hour. The veggies get soft and the flavors really marry. Bring the soup to a boil before you add the tortellini, and when they have cooked, add the dill and meatballs. I like more spinach than the rest of my family, so I generally put a handful in the bottom of my bowl, and then ladle the soup over it. Wonderful! I never season my soup with salt if I use canned broth, and I prefer my pepper fresh ground on the top. A glass of wine, a hunk of bread, dinner is served. Healthy, light, delicious.

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