Italian Wedding Soup

Last night, I finally made one of the foods I've been obsessing over lately... Italian Wedding Soup. Just did some research on the title because it sounds so beautiful, doesn't it? I thought it must have a beautiful story. Not so much. It was mistranslated from the Italian name, Minestra Maritata, which means "married soup" - in that the green vegetables and the meat in this soup go well together. Like a marriage. Like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. No wait, she left him for her ping pong instructor. Anyway.

I turned to Ina Garten's recipe for this soup because almost everything she makes on the tele I become instantly obsessed with. Made a few modifications based on what I had at home: pork instead of chicken sausage, no dill, no parmesan, added a leek, and used more wine and less chicken stock. Here's my modified version of my best friend Ina's:

Italian Wedding Soup

1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. ground pork
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Romano
3 T milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 leek
9 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 cup small pasta (I used orzo)
Bag of baby spinach
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. If you want to use store bought breadcrumbs, do it. But Ina is all about doing things yourself, so I put a couple pieces of sourdough bread in a Cuisinart and pulsed until I had one cup of bread crumbs.

Place ground chicken in pork in a large bowl.

Finely chop garlic cloves and parsley.

Add parsley and garlic to meat, along with the bread crumbs, grated Romano, milk, egg, salt and pepper.

Combine with a fork or your hands. I vote hands.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray/grease it if you don't have any. Roll meat into meatballs and place on sheet. This made 35 meatballs for me, but that number will vary with size of ball.

Bake meatballs for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside.

While meatballs are cooking, chop carrots, celery, onion and leek for soup. Remember to wash leek, they are sandy!

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add chicken stock and wine, and bring to a boil. Then add the pasta and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Mine needed A LOT of salt.

Add the meatballs and simmer for another minute or so. That is my hand, adding a meatball.

Add the spinach and simmer for another minute or so. Don't worry, when you add the spinach it will first look like this:

But it quickly wilts down and will soon look like this:

Ladle soup into bowls and grate some Romano on top.

This soup is light and healthy and delicious served with homemade garlic toast. I'm sure the fresh dill on top would be a nice addition, I just didn't have it. Do you have fresh dill in your fridge? Right.