Italian Wedding Soup

With a twist. The sausage meatballs!

I read about it on the editor of Bon Appetit’s Instagram page.

It is uncomplicated and oh so delicious. Better the next day, too!

Quoting Bon Appetit:

“This recipe takes all the right shortcuts and none of the wrong ones. We doctor up sweet Italian sausage for the meatballs, opt for adding canned beans instead of boiling pasta in a separate pot, and still manage to make an uber-flavorful soup without having to call for boxed chicken stock. It’s one-pot, one-bowl magic.”

Ingredients

1lb. sweet Italian sausage

¾cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

8 garlic cloves, dividedKosher salt

1 medium head of fennel with fronds

2 medium onions

½tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup dry white wine

14-oz. piece Parmesan with rind

1 15-oz. can cannellini (white kidney) beans

1 small head of escarole

Directions

  1. Cut shallow slits in each sausage link, then remove sausage from casings; transfer sausage to a medium bowl. Add ½ cup panko, 2 Tbsp. oil, and 2 Tbsp. water. Peel and finely grate 1 garlic clove on a microplane into bowl. Season lightly with salt and mix with your hands until breadcrumbs are evenly distributed.

2. Portion meat into small meatballs about 1″ in diameter (oil your hands to help with rolling if mixture gets sticky) and transfer to a plate. (Note: I made marble-sized meatballs.)

3. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven over medium. Add meatballs, spacing evenly apart, and cook undisturbed until first side is dark brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn meatballs and cook until other side is also well browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer back to plate and set aside.

4. Remove pot from heat and prep the rest of the soup ingredients: First, remove fennel fronds from 1 head of fennel and save for garnishing the soup. Cut fennel head in half lengthwise. Cut a V-shaped notch in each half to remove the core. Place halves cut side down, then thinly slice crosswise.

5. Peel and trim 2 onions. Cut in half lengthwise and coarsely chop.

6. Smash 6 garlic cloves (keep remaining clove for the end) and peel.

7. Place Dutch oven back over medium heat and add fennel, onion, and smashed garlic; season with salt and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden brown and softened, 6–8 minutes.

8. Stir in ½ cup wine and scrape bottom to dissolve any remaining stuck-on browned bits.

9. Add 8 cups water (Note: I used homemade chicken stock.) ; season generously with salt. Slice down along Parmesan rind to remove and add to soup; set cheese aside.

10 .Bring to a simmer, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered until broth is golden and flavorful, 25–30 minutes. Season with more salt if needed.

11. Open 15-oz. can beans and pour into a strainer or small colander. Rinse beans and shake to remove excess water, then transfer to pot along with meatballs. Bring back to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until broth is slightly thickened from beans and meatballs are cooked and have released some of their flavor into the broth, 10–15 minutes.

12. While soup is simmering, separate leaves from 1 head of escarole and rinse to remove any dirt. Tear into small pieces, then stir into soup in batches to wilt. Remove soup from heat.

13. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium. Finely grate remaining 1 garlic clove into skillet. Add remaining ¼ cup panko. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until panko is golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

14. Prepare your other garnishes: Finely grate about ½ cup cheese from reserved hunk of Parmesan (you might not need it all). Finely chop fennel fronds.

15. Taste soup and season with salt if needed. Ladle soup into bowls and top with chopped fronds, grated cheese, and toasted panko.

Here I am about to add the escarole.

Date Meatballs with Orange Mint Yogurt Sauce

I have made these a few times and they deserve to be made more often. The first time I followed the recipe below and they were delicious. I made them again with ground beef instead of turkey and used sour cream as I didn’t have any yogurt; not as perfect but still delicious, particularly with roasted cauliflower (picture at below).

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used 1 cup dry)
  3. 6 dates, pitted and finely chopped
  4. 2 large eggs, beaten
  5. 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  6. 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  7. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 cup French green lentils
  9. 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  10. 2 thyme sprigs
  11. 1 cinnamon stick
  12. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  13. 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  14. 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  15. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used fresh orange juice)
  16. 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  17. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used orange zest)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey with the bread crumbs, dates, eggs, sesame seeds, sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils, garlic, thyme and cinnamon stick with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and transfer to a bowl; pick out and discard the seasonings. Stir the olive oil and vinegar into the lentils and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Form the turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Spread the meatballs on a lightly oiled large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned on the bottom and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, blend the yogurt with the lemon juice, mint and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs with the lentils and yogurt.
    ~Food & Wine, 2004

North African Meatballs

My wife, Susan, asked me to make these. So happy I did. Just delicious!

Writing in The New York Times Cooking, David Tanis:

“In France, meatballs are called boulettes, and by far the favorite versions are the spice-scented North African type. Most of the neighborhood Tunisian and Moroccan restaurants in Paris offer them, served as an appetizer or a side, or in a fragrant main-course tagine with couscous.

“This recipe is an amalgam of several that I found on my bookshelf, among them one called boulettes tangéroises in an old French cookbook. Since I like things a bit spicier, my boulettes are more like Tunisian ones, in which hot pepper is more assertive.”

Ingredients

For the saffron tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • Large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

For the meatballs

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb (I used Bison.)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.
  2. Make the meatballs: Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.
  3. In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.
  4. With hands, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  5. Meanwhile, make the couscous, if desired: Cook according to package directions, fluff gently and stir in butter and raisins. Season with salt and cinnamon, and toss well.
  6. Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. Serve with couscous and roasted tomatoes if desired.

NOTE: I made the meatballs first. Cleaned pan. And then made sauce in same pan.

 

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Spicy Chicken Orange Ginger Meatballs

These spicy chicken orange ginger meatballs are so delicious!

Ingredients
  • For the meatballs
  • ¼ c. milk
  • ½ c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 
1½ lb. ground chicken
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 
2 tbsp. green onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 
1/4 tsp. salt
  • 
1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • I added 1/2 cup of leftover mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup of chopped leftover green beans—-and 1/4 cup red wine! OH! And I small carrot and celery stalk finely diced 🙂

 

  • For the sauce:
  • ½ c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ c. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
  • ½ c. granulated sugar or honey
  • ⅓ c. white or rice vinegar
  • ¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard size baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk and panko breadcrumbs. Allow to soak for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, egg, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix together just until combined (overworking it will cause the meatballs to be dense).
  3. Shape into meatballs and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until cooked throughout (internal temperature of 165).
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, sugar or honey, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a low simmer. In a small bowl whisk together the cold water and cornstarch, add to the saucepan. Whisk until combined, continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  5. Place the meatballs in serving dishes over hot brown rice and steamed broccoli. Add sauce. YUM!

Based on a recipe from Life Made Simple.

 

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Pappardelle with Pea Basil Pesto and Ricotta

Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1 pound spelt fusilli (I used DeCecco Pappardelle.)
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen and thawed peas
  • 4 cups packed basil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a large pinch of salt. Cook the fusilli/pappardelle until al dente, following package directions. Drain, reserving a few cups of cooking water.
  2. Add peas, basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. Stream in olive oil and blend until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl stir together the ricotta, half the lemon zest, and the lemon juice.
  4. Add pesto to a large saute pan over low heat. Use a ladle to add small amounts of pasta water to loosen it. Add cooked pasta and additional pasta water as needed, tossing and stirring until coated.
  5. Divide pasta among 4 plates. Top each with a spoonful of lemon ricotta and a quarter of the remaining lemon zest.

Note

  • Recipe by Ali LaRaia, the chef and cofounder at The Sosta in New York City. Based on the recipe in Shape Magazine. I also made tiny meatballs that I added to the pasta.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.