Monday, January 23, 2012

Light Italian Wedding Soup

There are endless variations of Italian Wedding Soup, but the main elements are meatballs and greens. Delicious and low fat, this spa-inspired recipe is made with lean ground turkey, plenty of fresh dill and baby spinach in a clear chicken-based broth. While the name suggests that the soup might be served at an Italian wedding, it's actually a mistranslation of Minestra Maritata - 'maritare' means 'to wed' - a reference that through marrying vegetables with meat, it becomes a complete and balanced one-course meal. 

These little 'meatballs' are actually made with ground turkey and turkey sausage

Normally pasta is added to the soup before serving, but for a lighter calorie friendly soup, the pasta was omitted in this recipe — who needs the extra calories. Turkey, being low in fat and high in protein, is made even more heart smart by baking the aromatic little polpette in the oven rather than frying them, for a healthier take on a wonderfully delicious classic soup.

Light Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 8

For the 'meatballs':
3/4 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound turkey sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tbsp milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For the 'meatballs', place the ground turkey, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch 'meatballs' onto a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. The recipe should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round. Bake for 30 minutes, until they're cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

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