We had lunch at a very pleasant soup & sandwich shop in downtown Pittsburgh the other day. Italian wedding soup was on the menu, and it was delicious. Filling. Just the right meld of late winter and hope for spring (it’s the spinach). So– with some substitutions b/c I did not have orzo (but I did have melon seed pasta), I did not know what cippolin onions were until I looked it up, and I could not find oil-packed dried tomatoes– I cooked up a batch in the slow cooker yesterday for Marica Cooks… Wednesday!
Very healthy, too. I suppose you could vegitarian/veganize it pretty easily.
The name comes from the “wedding” of meat and greens in this soup.
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
9 cipollini (boiling onions), peeled [substituted pearl onions]
12 oz lean ground beef
2 oil-packed dried tomatoes, minced [substituted sun-dried]
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning, crumbled
1 large fennel bulb [labeled ‘anise’ at the store; looked it up and this is a thing apparently, labeling fennel as anise. I know what fennel is. I’ve grown it.]
4 cloves garlic, chopped
42 oz (5 ½ C) chicken stock (preferably homemade)
¼ tsp white pepper, ground coarse
5 C fresh spinach, washed and shredded
1 ½ C orzo pasta, cooked [substituted melon seed pasta b/c I had half a bag that needed to be used. Thought it was better than the orzo from the restaurant.]
Chop three of the cipollini fine, and combine with ground beef, minced dried tomatoes, and half the Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl. Divide mixture and roll into 12 meatballs about 1 inch in diameter, and brown meatballs in a lare3ge, non-stick skillet brushed lightly with cooking oil. Transfer browned meatballs to (at least a 4 quart) slow cooker. Trim fennel and cut into wedges, reserving some of the leafy fronds for garnish, Place remaining onions, fennel wedges, garlic, stock, remaining Italian seasoning, and pepper into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8-10 hours, or on high heat setting for 4-5 hours. Gently stir spinach and orzo into soup, cover, and cook 15 minutes longer. Serve in deep bowls and top with reserved fennel fronds for garnish.
Making the meatballs was sort of a pain b/c Mr. Big Food had used a larger disc to grind the beef and so the resulting ground beef was somewhat too coarse for a 1″ meatball. But it didn’t matter. Would have been easier and just as tasty to brown the ground beef except for the fact that in a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup you want to go looking for the little meatball.
Who doesn’t like using the slow cooker this time of year?