Monday, November 23, 2009

Perfect Marriage

I finally have a new recipe to post! My family has been rundown lately with colds and pre-holiday events. My kids are...well kids. So getting them to eat homemade chicken noodle soup is tough, especially with all those veggies floating around. No matter how good for them I swear it is. I have strong reservations about store-bought soup. I definitely don't feel as though I'm giving them something that will make them healthier. So whenever we have soup, I want it to be homemade. I asked what kind of soup sounded good last night and was told that Italian wedding soup would really hit the spot... if only someone knew how to make it. (There was also a request for homemade crescent rolls from the smaller contingent. Since he usually gags at the mere mention of soup so I made those too-not as picturesque but pretty tasty.)

I accepted my mission. Even though I've never made Italian wedding soup before or even considered making it. I mean, I've eaten it before! It can't be that tough right? Hmmm...well. Luckily for all of us that proved to be the case. This could have definitely gone bad. I'm sure there's a more authentic, time honored approach. However, I must say that my version is easy, very tasty and pretty hard to mess up.

The making of the soup is actually a three step process. First you make the meatballs, then you make the soup, then you put it all together and let the flavors meld for a while.

2TBSp olive oil
1 lb mild italian pork sausage, casings removed
1 bunch very dark kale-finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs (approx.)
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc leftover from K's birthday party)
Parmesan Rind
2 boxes of low sodium chicken broth (approx. 8 cups)
1 cup large couscous pearls*
salt and pepper to taste

*the large couscous pearls are kind of difficult to find. This is sometimes called Israeli couscous and sometimes called 'pasta pearls'. I can sometimes find mine at Neomonde but other times I have to buy a little box in heavily packaged food section.

The Meatballs
In a large bowl mix the sausage, about half the kale, 2 garlic cloves, the cheese, egg and about half the breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands until the mixture will stick together but still feels like a solid. It's hard to describe what this should feel like but it reminds me of making peanut butter cookies. Too much liquid and they won't hold a shape. Too much bread crumb and they crumble. You want them to stay stuck together want to make 1 inch balls with the mix. Take slightly less than a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. It should make about 20-25 meatballs.
Heat the olive oil in a deep sided saucepan or large stockpot over medium high heat.
When the olive oil has warmed, pop in the meatballs. You may need to do this in batches if you have a smaller pot because you don't want to crowd them.
Cook the meatballs for about 3 minutes on every side until they have a nice brown outside. Take out the meatballs and place them on a paper towel covered plate.

The Base
Lower the heat to medium and put chopped onion in the pan and sautee for about 5 minutes.
Throw in the remaining garlic clove, the wine and the parmesan rind and sautee for about 2 minutes.
Pour in the broth and bring to a boil (stir it intermittently).

All together Now
Add the meatballs and the kale and continue to cook at a low boil for about 20 minutes. This kind of lets the soup suck the salt and flavor out of the meatballs so I wouldn't add any additional seasoning until after this step. If you used low sodium or turkey sausage, you might want to taste the soup to see if it's got enough flavor.
Add the couscous and simmer for about 5 minutes.

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