I made the original version of this soup for my parents' 35th anniversary party, and it was a huge hit. Since then I've made at least five batches! Something about this soup really hits the spot in winter, and while cheese isn't a main ingredient, the broth is really rich and creamy.
This recipe is great for variations. I've made it without the celery when I didn't have any, and added mushrooms when they were on hand. While the meatballs are delicious and not difficult to make, I usually replace them with chicken for time and health reasons. The soup would be tasty without meat, too.
Technically, I'm not sure if this is true Italian wedding soup without the meatballs, so maybe I should make up a new name for my version!
Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa (love her!). Serves 8 - I half it if I'm just cooking for me.
For the meatballs:
¾ pound ground chicken (I used turkey)
½ pound ground chicken sausage (I used ground pork sausage)
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons (2 cloves) minced garlic
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 Tbsp milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into ¼ inch pieces
¾ cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into ¼ inch pieces
10 cups chicken stock ½ cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta, such as tubetini or stars (I use ditalini)
¼ cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs: place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, cheeses, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 ¼-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
For the soup: heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs (or shredded cooked chicken, if using) to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.
Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.