Really Easy Italian Wedding Soup

Italian-Wedding-Soup-9703

My kids absolutely fell in love with Italian Wedding Soup several years ago, when we had the luck of finding a version made without pork. But then, Costco stopped carrying it, and the kids haven’t stopped asking about it every time we’d go there. Finally, I thought I’d try to find a recipe and make it myself. I expected that it would be really time-consuming, and the first time it was, a bit, but I’ve since developed my own version that really isn’t too much work, if not exactly a snap.

Here’s the recipe I generally use for basic meatballs, although pretty much any meatball recipe will work fine, so if you have a favorite way of making them, go for it.

Meatball Ingredients
1 lb of ground beef (or turkey)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbs ketchup
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and form into very small balls. This is the key to the soup looking as good as store-bought; if the meatballs are too big, they don’t look as nice. That said, plenty of times I’ve saved some time by rolling them a little larger and it all still cooks up fine. If you have the patience, make the balls 1/2″ across.

Soup Ingredients
6 cups water
2 tbs chicken bullion granules
2 large carrots
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup orzo pasta

In a large pot, bring to a gentle boil 6 cups of water and add the chicken bouillon. (I use the dehydrated powdered stuff, because its always on hand in my kitchen–I use it it soups, rice, everything. But if you prefer the hard little squares, or using liquid broth, that works too. With liquid broth, it always seems so much saltier to me, so I use 3 cups water and 3 cups vegetable/chicken/beef broth). Carefully drop in the meatballs. For a traditional version of this soup, add 2 large carrots, sliced, and 2 cups of washed and roughly chopped spinach. Let cook for 10 mins, then add 1/2 cup orzo pasta. Cook another 10 mins, salt and pepper to taste, check a meatball to make sure it is cooked through, and you’re done!

However, I find that the orzo pasta–particularly when the soup is reheated the next day–tends to get too large and overpowers the soup. I’ve had better luck with these adorable alphabet pasta bits. They stay nice and small, plus the kids love them. Lately I’ve made this soup with barley instead of pasta, which adds a nice chewy nutty taste that I’m really liking. Of course, you can always skip this part altogether if you want a more vegetableish soup. My kids don’t really go for it when it looks like there are too many vegetables, but maybe yours will!

Other variations we’ve liked: adding 1-2 cups peeled and diced turnips, potatoes, celery, or any other veggie that your kids particularly like.

One last sneaky tip–when faced with a plate that looks suspiciously vegetable-full, my kids immediately beg me to let them pick one veg to skip eating, with the compromise being that they have to eat all the other vegs on their plate. So, to allow for this negotiation, I often add a 1/2 cup or so of canned peas to this (or anything else). My kids hate peas, so they ask to skip that, and end up eating all their spinach and carrots. Pats self on back.

I would love to hear what variations on this soup you’ve tried and liked!

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