You already know that I am all about soups, stews and chili’s so the fact that this is yet another soup post is, I am sure, no surprise.
But, it’s time I fill you in on another little obsession that has been going on over here – meatballs. Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Shrimp, Eggplant, Lentil – I have been making a lot of meatballs. I’ve been using meatballs as little appetizers, to top off roasted spaghetti squash (one of my favorite dinners right now!), to freeze for future meals and, of course, to put in soup.
Even though Italian Wedding Soup has long been one of my favorites, I rarely make it. I associated it with heavy food because the versions I was used to eating were loaded with pasta, tons of cheese and the vegetables seemed to be more decoration than substance. That is definitely NOT true for this Skinny Italian Wedding Soup.
Eating Well Magazine had a beautiful picture of a lighter Italian Wedding Soup in their February issue and I immediately set out to make a version of it.
In this one, I used both light and dark ground chicken to keep the meatballs moist, simmered the soup with a Parmesan Rind to add a layer of flavor and used Kale in place of Escarole (mostly because I already had it in the house).
This is a hearty soup that truly is a meal in a bowl, freezes great and Skinny enough to ONLY be 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus for a 2 1/4 Cup serving. Add a side salad and a small piece of bread and you will be in winter soup for dinner heaven.
- If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a coffee grinder or put the spices in a little disposable bag (think ziploc) and beat the heck out of them with a rolling pin or hammer. Or, you could just buy ground fennel and make your life a lot easier!
Adapted From: Italian Wedding Soup, Eating Well Magazine – February 2013 Issue
- ½ pound ground chicken breast
- ¼ pound ground chicken thighs
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or put through a garlic press
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil for cooking
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, diced into ½" pieces
- 2 celery ribs, diced into ½" pieces
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 10 to 15 turns freshly ground black pepper
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cups (or 2 14.5-ounce cans) cooked white beans (see NOTES for types)
- 1 small Parmesan Rind (see NOTES)
- 1 large head Kale, stemmed and cut into small bite sized pieces
- 6 cups chicken stock or bean broth
- 4 cups water
- grated Parmesan Cheese for serving
- Finely chop parsley and garlic (or push garlic through a garlic press).
- Crush the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle (see NOTES if you don't have one).
- Combine with ground chicken, egg, bread crumbs, ¼ cup Parm cheese, Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper and ¼ tsp crushed fennel until well mixed.
- Spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray and roll approximately 30 mini-meatballs onto a plate. You can use a tablespoon as a guide for the amount for the first couple and then eyeball the rest.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 teaspoon of oil. Cook meatballs for 8 to 10 minutes, turning 2 to 3 times to brown all sides. You will want to cook them in batches so you don't crowd the pan and they will brown. I did two batches and used 1 tsp of the oil for each. Remove to a clean plate and refrigerate until ready to cook soup.
- Chop garlic and onion (I used food processor to speed things up). Clean carrots and split lengthwise into quarters. Proceed to dice into ½" pieces.
- Split celery in half lengthwise and dice into ½" pieces.
- Combine tomato paste, 2 tsp salt, ¼ tsp crushed fennel seeds, 10 to 15 turns freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes in a small dish. If using canned beans, rinse and drain.
- Remove kale leaves from stems and cut into thin, bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Once hot, add tablespoon olive oil then add in garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add in tomato paste and spice mixture. Cook for another minute or so, stirring to combine.
- Add beans, Parmesan Rind, kale, browned meatballs, broth and water. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes until vegetables are tender and broth is slightly cloudy (from Parm Rind).
- Serve with grated or shredded Parmesan on top and Enjoy!