I wasn’t sure why this soup is called “Italian Wedding Soup.” So I searched on the Internet.
According to the “Cooking Geek,” although it is commonly served to brides and grooms in the North Eastern U.S. for ‘energy fortification’ for their first night together, the real etilogy of the name ‘wedding soup’ is because the combination of flavors in the soup is the perfect “marriage.” According to Wikipedia, “The term “wedding soup” comes from the Italian language phrase “minestra maritata (“married soup”),” which is a reference to the flavor produced by the combination/”marriage” of greens and the broth.” That makes sense to me – I have always loved the combination of mini meatballs, dark leafy greens, pasta, and a light chicken broth!
But since going gluten free – I haven’t been able to have it – until now! This gluten free version of Italian Wedding Soup is just as good – maybe better – than the gluten kind!!
Give it a whirl and see what your family thinks – mine liked it a lot! Definitely a new family favorite! Plus – a bonus – extra meatballs for an easy homecooked meal later in the week!!
Note – this recipe makes double the amount of meatballs you need. I figure if I am making them, I may as well make extra – I rolled some small ones for this soup recipe, and some bigger to throw in some pasta sauce later in the week. If you don’t want pasta & meatballs later in the week, you could cut this recipe in half.
1.5 pounds ground beef (I use grass fed organic)
1/2 cup cooked & cooled quinoa
1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (I dried out 3 slices of gluten free bread overnight – and then put it into the food processor to make into crumbs). If you can’t find gluten free breadcrumbs or don’t have the time to make them – just use 1 cup of quinoa.
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I used freshly grated)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
1-2 Tablespoons water (or you could use milk)
2 teaspoons Real salt
fresh cracked pepper (approximately 1/2 teaspoon – I don’t measure it)
1-2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
2-3 Tablespoons of olive or avocado oil
1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup of finely chopped carrot
1 cup of finely chopped celery
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 teaspoons of Real salt
freshly cracked pepper
8 cups of chicken stock, broth (store bought or homemade)
1 cup of small gluten free pasta (traditionally this soup uses ancini de pepi or orzo – but I could not find it gluten free, so I used the smallest rice pasta I could find – Tinkyada Pasta Shells).
2-3 cups of fresh baby spinach that has been chopped (you can also use kale, or escarole)
fresh grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top of bowls
1. MAKE THE MEATBALLS:
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, salt, pepper, spices, breadbrumbs, quinoa, parsley, garlic – mix until well combined.
Add in the ground beef and 1 Tablespoon of water, mix it all together gently until combined. Add another Tablespoon of water if the mixture is not sticking together.
Roll the meatball mixture into about 40 small one bite-sized meatballs (about a rounded teaspoon size). After I roll the meatballs, I put them on a glass pyrex, or on a parchment-lined sheet pan. I cover and store in refrigerator if not putting into the broth within 10 mins or so.
There should be some extra meatball mixture – see below.
2. MAKE THE SOUP:
Heat olive or avocado oil over medium heat in a large pot.
Add the onions and cook covered for 2 minutes. Then add in the carrots and celery, cook covered 10 more minutes – stirring a couple of times.
Add the chicken stock, oregano, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 10 mins.
Drop the pasta and the fresh dill into the broth, and cook for about 5-6 minutes until pasta is tender.
Add in the meatballs, and cook about 5 more minutes, or until the meatballs are done – they should float when they are done.
Add in the spinach and cook another minute or two until it is wilted, but still bright green.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE EXTRA MEATBALL MIX:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the rest of the meatball mixture into medium sized meatballs (about a 2 bite meatballs – a rounded Tablespoon sized) – set them aside in a pyrex baking dish that has been coated with avocado or olive oil.
Put the pyrex dish into the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until no longer pink inside.
Save in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 4 days. Or put in freezer to save up to 1 month.
A couple days later, I just dropped the cooked meatballs into simmering red sauce and cooked them for about 10 mins to warm them up.
Serve over pasta, or make a meatball sandwich out of them.