When I lived in Maryland, a friend and I would often stop by a local pizza place after yoga class to get a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup. I remember it being so good. On a recent trip “up north,” I stopped in and got a bowl of the soup. I couldn’t believe how salty it tasted to me! This version of the soup is much lower-fat and less salty than the soup I used to love. It’s one of my favorite soups to make on fall days when I’m planted in front of the television watching football.
I love this technique for making meatballs. You make them, shape them and throw them in the oven. You don’t even have to turn them over halfway through cooking. This method is so much easier and healthier than browning meatballs on top of the stove in a bunch of fat.
I used a pound of ground chicken and a couple of hot Italian turkey sausage links. You may want more sausage and less ground chicken in yours. I used a pound of chicken because that was the size package I bought and I didn’t want to have to freeze half of it. You want about 1¼ lbs of meat total.
If you don’t have whole wheat orzo, any small pasta or brown rice will do. I’ve also made this soup with short-grain brown rice. If you substitute, you just need to make sure you cook the pasta/rice for the amount of time indicated on the package before you add the dill and meatballs.
The one ingredient you MUST NOT leave out is the fresh dill. I can’t describe the flavor it adds to this soup.
This recipe is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Niacin. It’s also high in Sodium. If you are keeping an eye on your sodium intake, don’t add the salt to the meatballs, cut back on the amount of cheese you use and make your own chicken stock.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten
1 lb ground chicken
2 links Italian turkey sausage (hot or sweet), casings removed
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
3 Tbsp nonfat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup minced sweet onion
3 carrots, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
10 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (see tip) or canned low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup whole-wheat orzo or other small pasta
¼ cup minced fresh dill
4 oz. baby spinach, rinsed and stems removed
Preheat oven to 350°.
Make the Meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, turkey sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, cheese, milk, egg, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Mix gently, but thoroughly. (I like to use my hands.) Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pinch off about a tablespoon of the meat mixture and roll into a ball; place on sheet pan. Repeat with remaining meat. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
Make the Soup: In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery; sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add stock and wine and bring mixture to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender (follow cooking time on package). Add the dill and meatballs and simmer for about a minute. Add the spinach and cook until spinach wilts, about a minute. Serve with extra cheese, if desired.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving: 400 calories, 16g fat (4g sat), 103mg cholesterol, 1039mg sodium, 33g carb, 5g fiber, 7g sugar, 28g protein