I do not recall the first time I tried this soup, and I can honestly say I have never had it at a wedding. But this is one of my favorite soups to make because it is packed full of tasty and healthy ingredients. I have seen a few variations on this recipe, but I prefer to keep it simple. If you want to add extra ooomph to the soup, chop up some sausage, or add some diced cooked chicken. For the meatballs I usually like to use a combination of ground beef and pork. Sometimes when I feel extra 'fancy' or adventurous I use ground lamb.
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (if I prepare this just for my crew I up the garlic to 2 tsp)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (just enough to help bind the meat)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces ground pork
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8-10 cups low-sodium chicken broth, water, veggie broth (whatever you have)
- 1 pound spinach- chopped (I usually use the frozen chopped stuff - I'm lazy)
- 1 onion - chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1-2 roma tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 dry pasta such as tubetti, macaroni, shells (they should be small and this is optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the meatballs: Doesn't take a rocket scientist. Really just chop, mince or grate all to the first 5 ingredients. Toss them into the meat mixture and stir it around. Combine it nicely. You will know when the consistency is right. I like to add more cheese if the mixture is too liquid, and sometimes more bread crumbs. . Using 1 1/2 teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Don't take my word as scripture though, you can make the balls however big you like. Set those bad boys aside to await their eventual bath with the broth.
To make the soup: First saute the onions for about a 1-2 minutes (you want to smell it). Then toss in the carrots, celery and tomatoes. Pour the broth over top of the veggies and heat until a gently boil. Add the meatballs and cook for around about 5 minutes.
Then add your spinach and pasta. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes (until the balls are cooked through and the greens are tender). Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with parmesan cheese if desired. Or make it better and drizzle olive oil over top. Serve it with nice crusty bread that has been lightly toasted and drizzled with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a big pinch of oregano (what we call Nonno bread). Oh, and don't forget the wine!