I’m pretty picky when it comes to soups. I’m pretty picky when it comes to everything actually, but we’ll just skip that little detour down psychotherapy lane and stick with soup for today. Seriously though:
I don’t like miso because, hello, little bits of tofu floating through a bowl of chicken broth and mushrooms? Where’s the deliciousness in that? I don’t care if you’re low in calories, Miso, because you also taste yucky.
I don’t like tomato soup because, simply, I don’t like tomatoes. And no, dunking grilled cheese in it does not make it better. It just makes the grilled cheese worse. And anything that ruins a sandwich consisting merely of bread, cheese, and butter is a sin in my book.
I don’t like creamy soups because they make me feel fat, and also because they remind me strangely of mashed potatoes…but not in a good way.
I don’t like gazpacho because it’s cold.
I don’t like broccoli cheddar (Bet you thought for sure that wouldn’t make the bad list, right? Who doesn’t like broccoli cheddar!? What do I get when I go to Panera!?), because if I’m going to be eating soup with that much broccoli in it, I would like it to be at least reasonably healthy. Or at least markedly above qualifying as unhealthy.
I could go on, but I won’t because you’re a kind soul for still reading and let’s face it: you didn’t come to hear me bitch. Or maybe you did – if so, WELCOME! – but either way, get to the point, Kate! So without further ado, I present to you my rendition of my favorite soup ever (it might be a tie with wonton, but really, that’s just an excuse for me to fish out the dumplings and eat them): Italian Wedding. I know what you’re thinking: Um, why didn’t she use smaller noodles? Um, because she likes the noodles a whole lot and orzo and/or elbows were just not gonna cut it. Judge away and use smaller noodles if you must. It will not harm the deliciousness.
Italian Wedding Soup
I didn’t follow a recipe for this at all, and I wound up making a crapload of it. Seriously: three Tupperware containers, plus the bowl I ate immediately even though it was far, far to hot for human consumption. You might want to make a little less unless you’re planning on feeding yourself three meals a day for a week, which, evidentally, I was.
Anyway, my recommendations: season the meatballs more than I did, because they’re a little bland. I mean, what did we expect from fat-free ground chicken breast, but still. Also, I think switching out a cup or two of the chicken stock for beef might make the flavor a little richer, and of course, if you want to use beef for the meatballs, I would switch most of the chicken stock out with beef stock. Otherwise it’s a little confusing.
Lastly, do not make this when you’re starving. It takes a few pots and a little while to simmer and honestly, my celery was a little crunchy still because I was impatient. So take your time, and have a little snack beforehand. Trust me.
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
6 or so baby carrots, chopped
1/2 cup of pasta (I used more than this, and you can too, but this is probably a more reasonable ratio than I chose)
1/2 lb ground chicken
2 – 3 tbsp seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1 – 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
7 – 9 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of frozen chopped spinach (again, I used more, but I like spinach and this is more than enough for normal humans)
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and oregano to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot (you’re putting 8 cups of liquid into this thing: make it a biggie) over medium-high heat, saute the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil until all the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, but not browned.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just undercooked. It’ll cook longer later, in the stock, so you don’t want it quite as done as you’d generally eat pasta. Drain the noodles and set aside.
Mix together the ground meat, parmesan cheese, egg, and breadcrumbs, and mash it all around with your fingers. Season with salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you choose. Form into small balls, and lay, spaced out, in a clear baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until cooked through (cut one in half to check – if it’s not pink, it’s done). Set aside.
Once the vegetables are tender, pour in all of the stock and turn up the heat until it begins to boil. Keeping the mixture at a low boil (no bubbles exploding all over your kitchen, just above a simmer), add the spinach and meatballs and allow to cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Taste the broth and season to your liking, then add the pasta and allow to cook for another few minutes, until everything is heated through (you don’t want the pasta to disintegrate, so don’t let it bubble forever like sauce or chili), the pasta is fully cooked, and the vegetables aren’t crunchy.