Friday, January 7, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Lately I am motivated to cook for friends. Or rather, since most of my friends are thousands of miles away, oceans apart, I am motivated to cook things my friends would like. There are a few of them out there that have been around a long time and these days they are on my mind a lot, especially in the kitchen, starting with Dana.

Dana makes this soup frequently and I recall many emails or phone calls over the years where she would announce that she had just made a pot of Italian Wedding Soup. I didn't even know what it was, but it just sounded good. It was one of her signature dishes, and I always knew if she had made it, it had been a good day.

There is debate over whether this soup is of Italian origin or not. Regardless, in America it's called Italian Wedding Soup, which I think gives it a certain charm. The name may come from the fact that the ingredients go well together, like a good couple should...(minestra maritata)
This version is so simple and intensely satisfying. The meatballs are almost sweet against the tang of the greens, then there's the soft saltiness of the egg and parmesan. The perfect soup to share with a loved one, or your best girlfriend.

Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Giada Di Laurentis

I only made one change from the original recipe which was to eliminate the bread from the meatballs. I highly recommend using homemade chicken stock. This is a nice quick soup to make so it would be a good weeknight meal, as long as you have stock already made and have shopped ahead for the ingredients. I suppose that's always the problem with weeknights! Then sit back and savor....

For the meatballs:
1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:
12 cups chicken broth
1 lb curly endive or escarole (I used chicory)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons parmesan

To make the meatballs, stir the first five ingredients to blend. Stir in the cheese, beef and pork. (I use my hands to combine.) Form the meatballs using about 1 1/2 teaspoons. (Just measure the first one, then make the rest about the same size.) Place them on a plate or baking sheet as you work.
To make the soup: Carefully wash the greens. Bring the broth to a boil, add the greens and meatballs and lower heat to simmer the soup for about 8 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl. Stir the soup in a circular motion and gradually drizzle the eggs into the soup, stirring with a fork to form thin strands of the egg, about one minute. Turn off the heat. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

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