My nephew Brian came for dinner in late January and it was a bitterly cold day so I thought starting out with a soup would be welcome. I’ve always enjoyed Italian Wedding Soup but recently had a very bad version while shopping in Buffalo which has jaundiced me from ordering it again at a restaurant, surprisingly it was in an Italian restaurant, but it was a chain, so I should have known better.
I have updated the traditional recipe using some unusual ingredients, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think. I ground my own beef and pork but you can easily buy already ground meat (extra lean of course). You’ll be surprised that I used puffed quinoa in the meatballs because I didn’t want to use bread crumbs or panko! Pretty clever don’t you think? I also used kale instead of the traditional spinach because I like the way kale holds up in a soup. Israeli couscous was my clever substitution for the pasta, it’s still pasta but I really liked the look of the balls in the soup.
Italian Wedding Soup, my way
- 1/4 cup sweet onions, finely chopped
- 1.5 g each of lean beef and pork
- 1/3 cup puffed quinoa
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp freshly chopped oregano
- 1/4 tsp each nutmeg, salt and freshly ground pepper (I use a mix of mainly white, s little black and a little red)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup Israeli Couscous
- 1 1/2 L (about 1 1/2 qt) Home-made or Low Sodium Chicken stock
- 1/2 (about 1 1/2 cups) large sweet onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 bunch kale (about 4 cups) finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots (about 2-2 1/2 cups), cubed
- 2 celery ribs (about 1 cup), cubed
- 3 tsp canola oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- water, if necessary
- 1 good size Parmesan rind
- In a large, chilled metal bowl, combine the onion, beef and pork, puffed quinoa, parmesan cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the lightly beaten egg. Shape into smallish meatballs and set on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Pre heat the oven to 177° C 350°F. Heat a skillet with 1 tsp canola oil and fry each meatball to brown all sides in two batches. Use the second tsp of canola oil for the second batch. Replace on cookie sheet lined with clean parchment and bake the meatballs until done (about 30 minutes).
- Cook the Israeli Couscous as per package directions to al dente. Set aside.
- Pre heat a large soup pot with 1 tsp canola oil, sauté the sweet onion until translucent, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the chopped kale, carrots and celery and stir for about 4 minutes.
- Cover with chicken stock and top off with additional water if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the Parmesan rind.
- Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables have reached their desired consistency, I like a very slight crunch so that they are not mushy in the soup. Add the couscous and baked meatballs just before serving to heat through.
- Remove theParmesan rind and eat.
- Serve garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese.
- If you are making this soup to freeze, I would recommend freezing the meatballs and the Israeli couscous in separate bags to the soup and adding to heat just at serving. I kept a batch in the fridge with the couscous and meatballs and they got mushy in two days.