It's been a while since I've shared a good soup recipe. But before I go any further, let me explain.
When the sun is shining and the sky is blue, there are people who like to play hooky and skip school or work.
Not me. I am the opposite.
If it is a sunny day, I have no problem staying focused on my work.
But if the skies are dreary and gray, and especially if it is raining or snowing, I daydream about being at home making soup. Actually, I daydream about that almost every day. But gray, cloudy days are the worst. I cannot concentrate. All I can think about is puttering about the house, listening to it rain or watching it snow, perhaps putting on some soft music or one of my favorite movies, slipping into some comfy clothes, and seeing what concoctions I can bubble up in the kitchen. There's something so primordially satisfying about stirring up a big pot of soup. And this explains my fondness for Le Crueset - it's the closest thing I have to a cauldron.
This winter has been especially rough. On one hand, it's a soup makers dream, we've seen more dreary days than I care to remember. On the other hand, who wants to work on such glorious, soup-making days(!)?
And today just happens to be one of those days. So I played hooky from work, avoided the dusting and laundry, and made The Barefoot Contessa's Italian Wedding Soup.
Well a version of it anyway, after I drove to three different grocery stores in the middle of a snowstorm searching for ingredients. Ina, I assume, has better food connections than I do.
The recipe called for ground chicken and chicken sausage to make the meatballs. Finally, I settled for a package of ground turkey as a replacement. I thought about grinding my own chicken and making my own sausage, but I wanted to enjoy this soup today, and who wants to clean up after all that raw chicken?
I began by making the meatballs - ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese - mixed lightly with a fork, formed into 1 inch meatballs, and baked in a 350 degree oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for 30 minutes.
Next I precooked the small tube shaped pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, then rinsed with cold water and set aside. Ina's recipe called for cooking the pasta directly in the soup, but I wanted a nice, clear broth, and was worried that the starchy pasta would cloud the soup, so I cooked the pasta separately before hand.
For the soup, I sauteed carrot, onion and celery until soft, added 1/2 cup white wine, 10 cups chicken stock and simmered for 10 minutes. Then added a good handful of fresh clean spinach along with the cooked pasta and meatballs and simmered another minute or two until the meatballs were heated through and the spinach wilted.
Lastly, I added 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill and ladled the soup into bowls and topped with more grated cheese.
Even though I strayed from Ina's original recipe, this soup really hit the spot(!).
For some reason, I wasn't in the mood for anything too heavy or with tomatoes, and the meatballs added a nice heartiness to the light but flavorful broth. The dill was a nice touch, too. The soup got rave reviews from my entire family, which is high praise coming from my hubby the soup-isn't-actually-a-meal man. And we finished the entire pot.
I was so happy with Ina's soup that I decided to make her Lemon Angel Food Cake as well. I am sorry I didn't get a picture of that - it's already half eaten. The first time I made this cake, years ago, it seemed like a lot of effort in comparison to the easy box mix. But the last time I made a box mix, it tasted chemically and sticky. This cake is light and perfect and has turned into one of my favorite "go to" desserts.
Once again, Ina saves the day. I have dreams of me and Ina hanging out in the Hamptons, chilling with some wine, eating spectacular food. Maybe we could make it an all girls party and I could invite my blog friends Marie and Linda along. You gals up for that? I'm sure Ina would love it if we came knocking on her door. I'll bring the cake. :)