I'm going to steal some of my friend Kayte's thunder and post a recipe, which isn't really fair of me. You see, when we were at the Indianapolis Museum of Art last week, I selfishly called dibs on posting a commentary on our tour. Kayte has never selfishly called dibs on posting recipes, something she'd be totally justified in doing. Not only because she is not selfish like me, but also a much better cook. I'm just saying.
Anyway, this is Italian Wedding Soup and it is so good. I hope it is really Italian, because you know how these things go. You spend all this time at the Olive Garden sampling the international cuisine and then you meet a friend who lived for years in Italy and France, who actually married an Italian guy, and you find out that all that stuff at the Olive Garden is just a big, cruel, albeit delicious joke, not Italian, but rather "Italian," and if you can picture me making little air quotes with my fingers and saying the word "Italian" in a tone of voice that means not Italian but really some American's "idea" of what "Italians" really "eat," you'll have the idea.
This Italian Wedding Soup is really, really fast the way I make it. Or you can do your own 10 cups of chicken stock and make your own little meatballs out of 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and it will probably taste even better, but it will also take longer.
We really enjoy this soup at our house and have it fairly frequently. The first time we had it, my husband looked askance at the spinach leaves, but he ended up loving it. He takes the leftovers for lunch sometimes.
So here goes:
ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
5 cans of chicken broth (or approximately 10 cups of chicken stock)
2 carrots, shredded
1 bag (1 pound) of frozen, pre-cooked Italian-style meatballs (or make your own, recipe follows)
1/2 bag of pre-washed baby spinach leaves, washed again
ground pepper and salt to taste
Pour the chicken broth and frozen meatballs into a soup pot and place over medium-high heat. While they heat, shred the carrots and add to the soup pot. Allow to cook for about ten minutes (the meatballs need only to thaw out and be heated through.) Add 1 cup pasta to the soup pot and allow to cook for eight more minutes. Add washed baby spinach leaves; cook for five more minutes. Serve hot with bread.
This serves four people, allowing some very nice leftovers for lunch the next day. Salt and pepper it if you feel it needs a boost.
I serve this with bread, either making a strange-looking French loaf in my bread machine, or zooming over to Panera Bread to buy a baguette. I assume I don't need to tell you that the bread needs to be eaten with butter. Any unbuttered bites of bread can be dipped in the soup.
ITALIAN MEATBALL RECIPE
Truthfully, I don't make these meatballs myself. I like the way the frozen ones taste well enough that I just don't want to fiddle around with rolling all these little things. But if you don't mind that kind of thing -- or if you have daughters or sons who are willing -- then pour yourself a glass of wine and get to it.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 T dried bread crumbs
2 T grated parmesan cheese (as Kayte says in her "Pas-Tability I" recipe, the fresh kind is best, but the green tube will suffice)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
two good pinches of salt
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Shape into small meatballs. Cook in a skillet in 2 T olive oil, medium heat, turning frequently to brown. Remove from skillet and put into soup pot with broth; follow the rest of the soup directions.