Excuse me for the brief departure, but, honestly, the cold weather in South Texas has frozen my creativity. Well, maybe it hasn’t been that cold, but we are having a real winter this year. Freezing temperatures, drizzle, winds. All at the same time. And on and off since the end of November. Need I say more?
While the sun did grace us with his (or her) presence on Monday–it was almost 70 degrees, that is not enough time to thoroughly defrost before the next winter storm arrives.
When I am cold, soup is the answer. It’s soothing, yet hearty. Nothing warms me up like a big bowl of piping hot soup. Normally, I make a lot of soup. Gazpachos and related cold soups in the summer and minestrone soup, clam chowder and cream of mushroom soup in the winter.
Surprisingly, despite the weather, I haven’t yet fallen into the soup pattern this season so I thought this recipe might be just right for the occasion, because we’re definitely having winter this year–there’ no getting around that reality–and soup is the elixir we all need.
At least I know it’s the elixir that fixed us right up. Our spin on an Italian Wedding Soup, this one is filled with browned balls of Italian sausage and dotted with plenty of fresh and wilted greens. The broth base means it’s not too filling but with a few grates of fresh Parmesan, the soup becomes creamy and even more flavorful.
The best part of this recipe is that you don’t have to be Italian or at an Italian wedding to serve it or eat it. All you need are colder temperatures and a few hungry companions to make this soup disappear.
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage bulk or removed from casing
- 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage bulk or removed from casing
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided in half
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups 32 ounces low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 small bunch escarole about 4 cups, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 pastured eggs lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- Red pepper flakes garnish
- Lemon wedges garnish
- More grated cheese garnish
Using your hands, roll bits of the sausage into small, bite-sized balls.
In a saute pan over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once it's hot, add the sausage balls and let sit for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Turn them gently so they continue browning on the other side.
Once browned, remove from the heat and set aside. If they are still pink in the center, they will cook more in the broth, so don't worry. Remove the balls and place on a paper towel lined plate.
In a soup pot over medium high heat, place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and then add the diced onions. Stir well to coat and allow to soften for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well and let cook about 2 minutes. Now add your stock of choice and bring to a boil.
Add the chopped escarole, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook another 5 minutes.
Place two eggs in a bowl and beat lightly. Add the Parmesan and Pecorino and blend well using a fork.
Slowly pour the egg-cheese mixture into the the hot soup, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer just until the egg bits are set, about 1 minute or so. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle in soup bowls and garnish with red pepper flakes, a squirt of lemon and a grating of cheese. Serve immediately and eat in front of a roaring fire.
Store any leftover soup in the refrigerator.