Italian Wedding Soup

From Camille Severino

Serves about 8 people

Camille organizes the annual jambalaya cookoff at Fitzgeralds, but for Soup & Bread she went to her Italian roots for inspiration. This soup was so delicate! Really nice, light broth and not-too-meaty meatballs. Just enough salt. Delicious.

Ingredients

Soup
16 cups chicken broth (if making it fresh you need one cut up chicken)
1 pound endive, chopped
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano
1 cup of cooked pastina
salt and pepper to taste

Meatballs
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
2 slices of Italian bread torn in to small pieces
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1-2 cloves of garlic
pepper

Preparation

Broth
First, if you don’t want to buy the chicken broth in a can then you take your chicken, cover it with water (2 gallons should do), and boil until chicken falls off the bone. While the chicken is boiling you should skim the fat that floats to the top. Once it is done, strain the broth from the chicken. Since Italian Wedding Soup does not call for actual chicken — except the broth, of course — then take one gallon of the broth and put that aside to make chicken soup.  (Of course, one or two cans of chicken broth are pretty inexpensive as well.)

Meatballs
First, take your broken bread and put it in a small bowl. Cover the bread with water and put aside. Some people like to take the crust off the bread; I don’t. Once it’s soaked it will mix as well as any other part and I have a hard time throwing away food. While the bread is soaking, in a large bowl mix your ground beef and ground pork well. Add parsley, mix. Add the Romano cheese, mix. Add black pepper, mix.

Drain the excess water from the bread then give it a little push to expel any extra water. Add your mushy bread and mix well. Press your garlic cloves, with a garlic press, into the meat mixture. If you don’t have a garlic press cut up your garlic very, very small and add. Mix. One note about meatballs: Don’t mix with a spoon. Meatballs are meant to be mixed by hand. You need to get your fingers in there and smoosh and mix and really get it all together. Otherwise there are clumps of bread or cheese or garlic. Finally, crack your egg and add it to the mixture. (Egg in meatballs is used as a binder, as my Grandma Camille always told me.) Add your egg and, you guessed it, get your hands in there and mix well.

(FYI, meatballs don’t always need a sauce, they are good just fried with bread. But, if you use this recipe to make real meatballs, don’t roll them. That will only make them heavy and, as Grandma Camille always says, “A meatball should be light and airy. It should never lay in your stomach like a rock.” Regular-size meatballs should be formed lightly to make a ball and then fried in hot oil. But, I am getting off the subject.)

For Italian Wedding Soup, the meatballs are only supposed to be around 1 inch thick, so rolling is the way to go. This is the hardest and most daunting part of making this soup. It takes FOREVER to roll these tiny meatballs.

Soup
Once the meatballs are done, bring your clear chicken broth to a boil. Lower the flame to medium and add your meatballs and cleaned chopped endive. Let that cook until the meatballs are done and you can put a fork into the endive easily. Then, in a medium bowl, beat your two large eggs, add two tablespoons of grated Romano and a few dashes of black pepper. Beat it all well. Take a fork and drizzle the egg mixture into the soup. Important, the soup must be very hot so the egg drops cook right away. Otherwise it will all mix with your broth and ruin your soup. You can drizzle the egg mixture from the bowl and use a fork to stir the broth. Just try to get the egg mixture to become strands of egg and not one big lump.

In another pot, cook your cup of pastina (small, dot-like pasta found in most Italian specialty stores). Let your soup cool off a bit before adding the cooked pasta. Sometimes, if the broth is too hot, the pasta will suck up a ton of the water and become mushy. Also, make sure the pastina is cooked really well. If cooked al dente it will also suck up a ton of your broth.

That’s it. Add some more grated Romano and mangia!

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