Work has been challenging these past couple of weeks (critical thinking, creating and planning), which means that by the time I get home I don’t often feel like cooking a really involved meal. I’ve found myself wishing that I had taken the time over the weekend to prepare a huge pot of soup that I could then ration out into lunch and dinners sporadically over the week.
Based on this, I decided that for the next month or so, I would like to publish a new “souper” soup recipe once a week. These soups are termed “souper”, since they will provide a good source of both protein and vegetable and can be eaten as an accompaniment to any meal or as the meal itself. The goal of these soups is to ensure that no matter how busy you are with work, prepping for holidays (or whatever else gives us the excuse to make PB&J for dinner), that you can now enjoy a bowlful of fortifying soup at your table and stay on a healthy track.
Why start with wedding soup? Wedding soup is a delicious combination of meat and greens, which is actually how it’s name came about. In Italy, this soup was originally coined, “minestra maritata”, which means “married soup” and references how well the meat and greens “marry” together. This soup is the perfect paleo recipe, since in it’s earliest creation did not include pasta and incorporates lean protein in the chicken meatballs and has tons of vegetables and fresh herbs.
The inspiration for this recipe came from Ina Garten’s recipe. However, after looking up some older recipes, it is clear that a wide variety of meats and greens can be substituted. For example, Italians often used prosciutto, salami or pork for their meat and broccoli or cabbage for their greens. So, what is the most important ingredient you ask? After testing this recipe, I think that the key ingredient is letting this soup simmer with the meatballs. Ina uses homemade chicken broth, which undoubtedly has TONS of flavor. Low-sodium, store-bought organic chicken broth however, does not do the trick on it’s own. Like the oodles of little old women who stood for hours over their pots giving the meat time to impart it’s flavor, I believe this soup needs time to develop…perfect for a weekend creation.
How does this soup to help our body? Besides the lean protein and nutrients from the aromatic trio (carrots, onions and celery), lets concentrate on the health benefits that the greens in this recipe bestow.
Spinach: High in Vitamin K, A, C and the B’s. Spinach is an excellent source or iron and potassium and the phytonutrients found in spinach are well known to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. (Trust Popeye)
Basil: Also high in Vitamin K, basil has been shown to protect our DNA from free radical-based damage. Basil has also been shown to provide anti-bacterial properties. (Basil is my #1 favorite herb, so more on this to come in future soups).
Parsely: A triple threat when it comes to Vitamin K, parsley also provides a high dose of Vitamins K, C and A. Interestingly, an oil found in parsley called myristicin has been shown to inhibit tumor growth in mice (lung model).
Despite the mistranslation, perhaps it’s good luck to partake in this delicious soup at weddings and other festivities…a foreshadow of the happy memories that are made when two families combine. I hope you enjoy this first installment of “Souper soups”, have a happy and healthy Tuesday!
- 1 lb ground chicken
- ½ lb hot italian sausage (feel free to use whatever type sausage you prefer), remove casings
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbs chopped fresh parsley
- tbs chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 3 tbs milk
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper (large dashes)
- 2 tbs olive oil (or enough to coat bottom of soup pot)
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups chicken stock
- ½ dry white wine
- 3 tbs chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbs dried organo and basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups of spinach, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Place all meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix using your hands (make sure everything is evenly incorporated)
- Make mini (~1 inch) meatballs and place onto a greased, aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet (recipe should make about 40 meatballs)
- Bake for 30 minutes, until brown on the outside and cooked through (some cheese will melt out, no worries here)
- Set aside
- While the meatballs are cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-heat in a soup pan
- Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery and saute until soft (~10 minutes)
- Add the chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil
- Test the soup, add salt and pepper as needed (I used a low sodium chicken stalk, and have a salty palette, which meant I added quite a bit of salt here)
- Add the meatballs to your broth and allow to simmer for at least 15-20 minutes (this step is a MUST if you are using store bought chicken stalk…there just isn’t that much flavor built into the non-homemade stuff, so by simmering with the meatballs you impart some of the richness into your broth)
- Add the dill, oregano and basil, stir
- Taste, taste, taste…season again, accordingly
- Add the chopped spinach and cook for ~1 minute or so until just wilted
- Serve with a little extra Parmesan grated on top
Despite the mistranslation, perhaps it’s good luck to partake in this delicious soup at weddings and other festivities…a foreshadow of the happy memories that are made when two families combine.