Kitchen Mailbox: An Italian Wedding soup to crow about

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Finding a "traditional" wedding soup recipe is like finding a traditional tomato sauce recipe -- they're all different and they're all good. Mary Lawrence of Murrysville requested a recipe for traditional wedding soup. Mercedes "Sam" Murphy of Phoenix, formerly of Mt. Lebanon, responded: "This recipe was originally printed in the Post-Gazette sometime in the 1960s or early 1970s. I have made it many times and it is excellent. Although I now live in Phoenix, I still enjoy the food section of the Post-Gazette."

We made the soup and it is delicious. But we made one tiny change: We used ground round and ground pork, eliminating the veal. And instead of boiling, we baked the meatballs.

Other wedding soups call for spinach instead of escarole and pasta such as acini di pepe (tiny round pasta).

Bottom line, whatever you add will become your traditional Italian wedding soup.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

PG TESTED

For the meatballs

  • 1/2 pound beef, 1/4 pound each veal and pork, ground (we used 3/4 pounds ground round and 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, or 2 tablespoons fresh
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 slices white bread soaked in about 1/4 cup milk

Place all ingredients except bread in a large bowl. Squeeze milk from bread and break apart. Add to the bowl and mix until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Form into meatballs (we used 1 1/4-inch melon baller). Place meatballs in large pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Remove meatballs with slotted spoon and set aside. Makes about 3 dozen 1/2-inch meatballs.

For the broth

  • 4-pound stewing chicken
  • 1 onion, quartered, plus 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot cut in half plus 2 carrots grated
  • 1 bunch of celery leaves plus 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 6 quarts water
  • 8 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 head escarole, shredded and parboiled for 10 minutes in salted water and drained

Place chicken, quartered onion, cut carrot, celery leaves, peppercorns and water in a large pot with lid. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until chicken is tender, about 3 hours. Remove chicken from broth and cool. Remove the skin and bones and cut meat into small pieces. Set aside. Strain broth and return to pot. Add diced celery, grated carrots, diced onion and bouillon cubes. Simmer 20 minutes. Add escarole, chicken, meatballs and simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Yields 6 quarts.

Healthier meatloaf

Elaine Soens of Morningside writes: "I've enjoyed Kitchen Mailbox for years and have gleaned many recipes that I've used over and over again. I clipped Marilyn Rubin's Sour Cream Meatloaf when it first appeared. One thing though. When I used it I did not like the idea of baking the potatoes in the fat from the loaf. Even with the best ground chuck there was too much fat in the recipe. I think your readers might like to know that it can be made in a healthier way and still taste good.

"Here is what I did: I chopped somewhat less onion as fine as I could and added it raw instead of frying in butter. And the recipe refers to 'pan juices' but the fact is the pan juices are just fat. I keep the potatoes whole and bake them in the oven along with the meatloaf.

"This makes a great meatloaf with much less fat, and one that makes great sandwiches when cold. My family loves this meatloaf and is indebted to Marilyn for this and so many of her recipes."


To request a recipe or send a recipe to Kitchen Mailbox, write the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222 or aburnett@post-gazette.com .


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