My mom makes the best soup. Every variety she makes is delicious… Broccoli cheddar, chicken noodle, beef, vegetable, ham and bean, and my all-time favorite, Italian wedding soup.
The secret to making amazing soup is using homemade chicken stock. Store-bought stock is a pale substitute to homemade… There really isn’t a suitable comparison. The rich, hearty, fresh flavor is worth the extra time.
The very first time I made my mom’s Italian wedding soup, I drained the stock into a colander that I’d placed in the sink. The problem was I did NOT put a bowl underneath the colander. I was so intent on not letting the chicken and veggie bits drop in the sink, I didn’t even notice my golden stock flowing down the drain until the last seconds. I wasn’t exactly happy when I finally realized what I’d done. I had more chicken, so after a few deep breaths, I made another batch. Although it tasted fine, the soup magic was gone after that blunder.
It took me a few more times, but I was finally able to replicate my mom’s version. The stock is salty and full of flavor, the chicken tastes fantastic from the slow cook in the stock, the carrots are sweet and slightly crisp, and the meatballs… My favorite part, absorb all these flavors while also distributing additional elements into the soup. It’s simple, without using a lot of ingredients, and tasty.
Another great thing? This is an easy weeknight meal – just make your stock and meatballs over the weekend! Add a fresh salad or loaf of crusty Italian bread for a perfect dinner.
Italian Wedding Soup
2 quarts chicken stock (recipe below)
1 cup chicken, shredded
6 carrots, cut diagonally
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 slices white bread, crust removed
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, torn
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup acini di pepe
salt + pepper
Bring your chicken stock to a boil in a large stock pot.
While the stock is heating, make your meatballs. Tear the bread into chunks and pulse in a food processor until breadcrumbs are formed. Transfer to a bowl and add the beaten egg, salt and pepper.
Dice onion and garlic and saute in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes. Allow this mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Add the egg and breadcrumbs to a large bowl holding the ground beef, red pepper flakes, oregano, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper. Gently mix together until everything is combined. Form small meatballs, slightly smaller than a golf ball, until the mixture is gone.
Cut the carrots and wash the spinach.
When the stock is boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the uncooked meatballs, chicken and carrots to the pot. Cook for 20 minutes before adding the acini di pepe. Cook for an additional 10 minutes before tasting for seasoning and adding fresh spinach. Cut the heat and serve.
3-4 lb chicken (breasts, thighs, wings)
3 carrots, cut into chunks
4 celery stalks, cut into chunks
2 large onions, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons olive oil
Add oil to soup pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Sauté for several minutes before adding chicken, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and parsley.
Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for additional 1-1 1/2 hours, until the chicken is cooked.
Remove chicken and shred for later.
Drain the stock through a sieve into another container and discard the vegetables.
Use stock immediately or store in the refrigerator (3 days) or freeze.