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One of my favorite soups, Italian wedding soup, is a typical soup found in many Italian-American restaurants and homes throughout the US. This soup which has almost as many variations as there are Italian-Americans, is a very tasty combination of usually freshly cooked greens in a chicken and/or beef stock along with the usual soup trio: carrots, celery and onions, little meatballs and most often served with a very tiny pasta “pastina” such as orzo, ditalini or acini di pepe. Because we just had our Thanksgiving dinner last night, a week and a half late, I have a turkey stock simmering in the kitchen right now, filling our house with a delicious and warming aroma. Naturally I am eager to make soup and with the surplus of turkey stock we will have on our hands over the coming weeks I will surely be using this stock as the base for my next minestra.

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Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Broth

For the Soup:
6-8 cups (1.5-2 liters) Turkey Broth (Chicken broth or half Chicken & half Beef Broth)
1 large or 2 medium sized Onions diced
3-4 Carrots finely chopped
4 Celery Stalks sliced
1 large bunch of fresh Spinach or Escarole, Kale, Curly Cabbage etc.
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
Small Soup Pasta, cooked separately (I used Orzo)

For the Meatballs
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
1/2 pound (250g) ground Beef
1/2 pound (250g) ground Pork
1 small Onion diced
3 cloves of Garlic minced
1 egg lightly beaten
1 large slice of rustic white or sourdough Bread
1/4 cup Milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
3 Tbs Fresh Parsley minced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
Large pinch of Dried Oregano
Olive Oil

In a large frying pan coated in olive oil, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and oregano and saute one minute more until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl add the milk and tear the bread up into small pieces and add to the milk. Mash the bread with a fork or the back of a spoon until soft and mushy, then add the beaten egg, onion and garlic mixture, grated cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix together well. With your hands incorporate the ground meat until everything is well mixed together. Form small meatballs about 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter and saute until well browned on all sides and fully cooked, in a frying pan generously coated in olive oil.

In a large soup pot or dutch oven saute in olive oil the onion, carrots and celery for the soup, stirring often. Once the onions are soft add the broth. Bring the soup to a boil and add the bay leaf, and clean and cut spinach leaves or greens of your choice. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the meatballs and cook for about 20 minutes more or until the greens are cooked and the meatballs are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with already cooked, al dente, pastina and additional grated cheese and/or olive oil to each bowl.

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