You may remember a fairly recent guest post by a guy who goes by the funny "name" of Bloodhounded. Well, he is back! This time he is sharing his wonderful Italian Wedding Soup.
I was bummed out when I found out that Italian Wedding Soup has NOTHING to do with a wedding at all! In fact, it’s not even really Italian! Madona Mia, in my mind I envisioned Italian chefs preparing the minestra maritata ("married soup") for Italian mobsters daughters weddings and if it wasn’t done just right, minga da faccia, they ended up in the soup!
Actually, The prized Italian Wedding soup derives from Spain where they crafted it out of dried Spanish lettuce, broth and any meat that one could find. They “married “the flavors of the meat and greens to make a meal that would sustain the hard working men and women who made their living the hard way, with their muscles and their hands.
Years ago, when I first learned how to cook, I worked for a true Italian master chef at an upscale, 5 star ristorante named, The Library Lounge and Restaurant. He taught me techniques that I still carry with me today. Even though I do not cook as my sole profession, I still love to make the Italian Wedding Soup from the recipe that he taught me and everyone loves when I do. It has a buttery smooth taste and what I call, “plate appeal”.
Over the holiday’s I decided I would put the finishing touch on our “food fest” with a big pot of his mastery. My wife was shopping for ingredients and was surprised how I could just pull the contents off the top of my head (I mean come on, I’ve only made 10,000 gallons of this stuff in my lifetime). She laughed and wrote down the list:
I do not use a starch in my soup such as Acini di pepe, Ditalini or rice as some cooks do but you can if you wish. I also add some “chopped” chicken to the soup in addition to the beef and pork meatballs to get the true “married” effect of different meats. Finally, I use escarole as my green of choice because it adds flavor unmatched by kale or endive and it cooks up tender and holds together nicely for appearance. Whatever you do, do not add spinach! It will ruin your soup and the leaf resembles “seaweed” in texture when cooked, yuck!
The very basic cooking instructions are:
• In a 3 gallon soup pot bring 2 gallons of water to boil
• Add one chicken breast skinned and split
• Let boil for 40 – 60 minutes
• Mix 1lb of ground beef with ½ lb of ground pork, parmesan cheese, one egg, 2 teaspoons of quality garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of parsley, salt and pepper. Sound familiar? Yes, your making meatballs without the bread crumbs BUT roll these meatballs nice and small. Remember, they will be part of the marriage not the main course.
• Remove your chicken breasts and season broth with some good quality chicken base. Not too much, just enough to complement the natural chicken flavor. You can add a little in the end too if it’s not flavorful enough but too much and it’s game over. You’re in the soup!
• Then start to drop your meatballs in the boiling stock. Keep it at a rolling boil by adding them slowly and be careful not to splash. Cook for a short time.
• WASH YOUR ESCAROLE several times in a full sink of cold water. Cut it into 2 inch section 3 inches from the bottom stalk. Add your escarole to the pot and lower the temperature. It’s time to slow things down.
• Remove the chicken from the bone and start to chop. Not slice or dice, chop your chicken against the grain so some of it shreds while some stays intact but not diced. More like shredded or torn by hand.
• Cook until the greens are dark and tender.
• Taste your soup. Too strong? Add more water. Too weak? Add some base. Go back and forth until the pot is exactly the way YOU want it in flavor and in the quantity you want.
• Then add the chicken and simmer for 30 minutes covered.
• Let cool before you serve it and if you can resist, wait until the next day to eat it!
Serve in a bowl with a nice balance of greens/balls/chicken and broth. Top with grated parmesan cheese and bon appétit!
Kevin, aka "Bloodhounded" runs a geocaching blog at CacheCrazy.Com, and he does a lot more than just geocaching stuff. They feature outdoor activities, fitness, family fun and oh yes, food! In addition to his day job as a program director, he is a part time sauté chef and loves to share some of his tips, tricks and recipes.
You can see this original post, and much more on his website CacheCrazy.com