Italian Wedding Soup

I had never made meatballs until today. Crazy, right?! Meatballs have never been very enticing to me – an odd fact, since I love sausage. The idea of the grocery store meatball with loads of crappy filler and little flavor is not my idea of cuisine. But, I’m learning to love the humble meatball. Mark’s family made a special batch of their family’s famed Swedish Meatballs for me at Christmas. I’d never even tried these particular meatballs because of the gluten in them, and never really felt like I was missing out. I was wrong. The meatballs were heaven, swimming in a savory gravy.

This week, while I was perusing my favorite food inspiration site, Tastespotting, I saw a couple of recipes for Italian Wedding Soup. I’d never heard of it before, but the recipes featured homemade meatballs swimming in broth. I was intrigued, so I gave it a shot this morning.

The meatballs on their own are well worth making and not that much trouble. I baked them, not having the patience to saute them in several batches, as I had other things to prep in the kitchen. I would definitely make the meatballs for pasta sauce another time. I didn’t have gluten-free bread crumbs on hand (I rarely have GF bread around at all), so I threw a few Ener-G gluten free onion crackers in the mini-prep and whizzed them into submission – it worked perfectly for the meatballs. If you want to cut the calorie load a bit, you could certainly use all turkey sausage for the meatballs – I just happen to love pork. I also cut the finished meatballs into quarters, so that you’d get more bites of beautiful sausage in every bowl.

Once you’ve got the meatballs made, the rest of the soup is a snap, and follows the standard soup operating procedure – saute mire poix, add broth and spices, then simmer. The finished soup is amazing – hearty and spicy and a little like a hot and sour soup. The addition of the dill to the broth adds an almost sour note, but it really works in combination with the red pepper flakes.

Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 6

2 links Hot Italian sausage, pork (about 8oz)
2 links Hot Italian sausage, turkey(about 8oz)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T parsley, minced
1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (I used pulverized GF cracker crumbs)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 with the convection setting on. If you don’t have convection, set it to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the casings from the sausages and place the meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with your hands until combined. Now, shape the meatballs. Use a scant tablespoon of meat for each meatball, and shape them into balls with your hands. Place the formed meatballs on the prepped sheet tray, about 2 inches apart from each other. When you’ve finished making the meatballs, bake them for 25 minutes, then remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes, then store in the fridge while you make the soup.

1 onion, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
2 cups diced red potatoes, skin on
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups homemade chicken stock
1 T dried dill
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 T parsley, minced
1 bunch rainbow chard, washed, ribs removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Meatballs, sliced into quarters

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add 1 T olive oil, then saute the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, 1/4 tsp salt and red pepper flakes for about 5-6 minutes, until the onion is translucent and softened. Add the dill, garlic and black pepper and stir for another minute, until you smell the garlic.
  2. Add the chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Taste the soup, and adjust the seasonings – adding more salt, pepper or red pepper flakes if it needs it.
  3. Just before you’re ready to serve, add the rainbow chard and parsley to the pot, stirring the greens in gently. Allow them to cook for 2 minutes, then add in the quartered meatballs. Cook for 2 more minutes, then dish up the soup.

341 cal/bowl, 160cal from fat, 17g fat, 85mg cholesterol, 1080mg sodium, 470mg potassium, 39g carbs, 3g fiber, 9g sugars, 20g protein