Monday, January 4, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup with Ricotta and Honey

Internet Cooking Boyfriend mentioned recently that Italian wedding soup is his fave. I thought maybe he was hint dropping, until Wikipedia informed me that Italian wedding soup isn't served - or intended - for weddings. The marriage in question is a figurative reference to how well the flavors complement each other. Le sigh.

I love this soup like crazy, despite how {bleeping} tedious it is to make the meatballs. {The whole process needs wine. Bad.} But, I started a new job today, and what better way to treat myself with a creamy and rich soup that was made with some tender loving care. I made this soup last night, so it was crucial that I left the pasta al dente. {Otherwise it would have turned into mush tonight.} I added some dairy elements and honey to make it taste less like like any ordinary chicken soup, and it was a {bleeping} brilliant idea. Just try to be patient with your meatballs. They just do the best they can.


1 Lb. Lean ground beef
6 Cloves garlic, minced
2 T. Tomato paste
2 Eggs
6 T. Bread crumbs
1 Small white onion (or half a large onion), chopped
1/2 c. Green onions, chopped
1 c. Carrots, finely julienned or chopped
6 c. Chicken stock
1/2 c. Acini di pepe pasta
2 c. Spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 c. Heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. Ricotta
1/4 t. Honey
1 T. Oregano
Olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, three cloves of garlic, oregano, tomato paste, eggs, and bread crumbs. Season with some heft pinches of salt and pepper as you are mixing the ingredients. Once everything is combined, roll into small meatballs - about half an inch in circumference.

Once all the meatballs are rolled up, add half or a third of them to a large Dutch oven with two tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. You will have to break the meatballs up into two or three batches as they go into the Dutch oven so that they have enough space to brown properly.

Turn the meatballs in the Dutch oven so that all sides have a chance to brown. Once the meatballs are browned all the way around, add them to a casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining ground beef mixture, and place the casserole dish with all the browned meatballs in the oven for twenty minutes.

Author's side note: Since these meatballs are very small and delicate, some of the meat may break away in the pot as you turn them. If that's the case, don't worry. Save any of the remnants and set them aside in a bowl. These pieces of meat can be spooned over the soup and used garnished as garnish once you're ready to serve.

Now that all the meat has been removed from the Dutch oven, add two tablespoons of oil, the chopped white onion, the green onions, and the remaining garlic and bring to medium high heat. Cook for about five minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots and cook for another five minutes or until the carrots become slightly brighter in color and a bit more tender. At this point, add the chicken stock. Bring the contents to a boil.

Whisk in the acini di pepe once the stock is boiling. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for eight minutes or according to pasta package instructions.

Once the acini di pepe is al dente, reduce the heat of the soup to low. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream until the soup appears smooth and the color is even.

Remove the meatballs from the oven. Gently add them to the soup, along with the chopped spinach, and stir for another minute or two so that the spinach has enough time to wilt. Season with some more hefty pinches of salt and pepper as needed.

To serve, spoon the soup into large bowls and top with any stray browned meatballs, a small quenelle of ricotta {about a teaspoon's worth},  and a little tiny drizzle of honey.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my friend. I make Ina Garten's recipe and I just make 'drop balls' (no rolling) and bake them in the oven. This is one of my easiest, go to soups.