Light and Delicious: Italian Wedding Soup

Part of the problem with dieting in January is that for most of us in this country, it’s still dang cold outside. And that has us reaching for comfort food like mashed potatoes, or cheesy casseroles—not so great for cutting calories.

The perfect solution to eating light, even when the red line on our thermometer is no where to be seen, is to eat a warm, comforting bowl of soup. I found a gorgeous Italian Wedding Soup—filled with spinach and chicken meatballs—in Ina Garten’s Back to Basics cookbook, which I absolutely love.

I adapted the recipe a little, so that I could use things I already had on hand.

Italian Wedding Soup

adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter, 2008

For the meatballs:

1 cup panko, or 1 slice white sandwich bread turned to crumbs in a food processor
1/2 cup milk
1 pound ground chicken breast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten

for the soup:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
8-10 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine or 1/2 cup Martinelli’s apple cider plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
handful small pasta, such as macaroni or mini shells
2 large handfuls spinach

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread crumbs in a large bowl and pour in milk. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix everything gently with a fork. Use a small cookie scoop (a retractable ice cream scoop) to make 2 inch meatballs. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked.

2. While the meatballs cook, heat olive oil in the bottom of a large pot and add in onion, celery, and carrots. Cook over medium-low heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Add in pasta, and cook for 2 minutes less than it calls for on the pasta instructions. Reduce the heat to low. Add in meatballs and spinach.

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