We're in Week 3 of Soup Month, check out the first two weeks: Broccoli Cheese Soup and Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Italian Wedding Soup is simple, has lots of flavor, and I continue to make year after year. This base soup flavor is so good, that I could do without the meatballs.
I got this recipe from a friend who attended an Italian cooking class at The Viking Store. This soup is really quick and easy to make if you use a shortcut and buy mini meatballs from the store. If you live in the Cleveland area, I've found them at Gallucci's and more recently at Miles Farmer's Market. You could also take regular sized meatballs and portion them into smaller balls for this soup.
I love that this recipe includes red pepper flakes. It's not enough to make it spicy (though you could add more if that's what you want). It's just enough spice to give it a little edge. This would make a great chicken soup too, just sub cooked chicken for the mini meatballs.
The quality of this soup really depends on the type of chicken stock you use. I strongly recommend using homemade, but if store bought stock is necessary, please use a high quality one.
Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from The Viking Store
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup un-oaked, dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo pasta, uncooked (I use Israeli cous cous)
8 oz mini meatballs, cooked
3 cups (8 oz) fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan, for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the wine and stir and scrape the bottom of the pot removing any browned bits (deglazing). Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the orzo, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the orzo is al dente (6-8 minutes), then add the meatballs and spinach. Simmer gently (do not boil) until the meatballs are warmed through about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and garnish with grated cheese (if using).