Friday, December 12, 2008


There's no doubt about it, Ina is shaking things up in my kitchen. A few posts back I wrote about trying her recipe for scampi after making my own version for years and years. Since that experiment was so tastefully successful, I decided to try again with another of my "revered" recipes, this one for Italian wedding soup. While I don't mind standing and rolling tiny meatballs, I draw the line at frying them and generally poach them in the broth. Ina's version calls for pre-baking the meatballs. My meatballs are beef-based. Hers were supposed to be chicken-based, but there's got to be a little wiggle room in a recipe, right? I used turkey and turkey sausage. Ina replaces my standard escarole with baby spinach.

The results were every bit as delicious as my original recipe. In fact, Larry prefers her version because he loves sausage. I made a vat of this soup and served it with homemade focaccia (from Carol Field's book Focaccia). Nothing smells as wonderful as a pot of soup simmering on the stove and a loaf of bread baking in the oven. There were no leftovers to freeze, but I'm quite certain that if you kept the pasta separate, this soup would freeze beautifully. The recipe that follows is my interpretation of the Ina Garten's recipe, though very little is changed except some methods and the omission of dill, which I really don't find very Italian.

Italian Wedding Soup - Serves 6 to 8

3/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I used hot)
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbs fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbs milk
1 egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbs olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 carrots, 1/4 inch dice
2 stalks celery, 1/4 inch dice
10 cups chicken broth (I used ready-made low sodium)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup tubetini pasta
12 oz baby spinach, washed and trimmed

*place the ground turkey, turkey sausage, garlic, parsley, cheese, bread/milk mixture, egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper in a bowl and combine well

*shape mixture into approximately 40 meatballs, placing them on the parchment lined sheet

*bake for 30 minutes

*as the meatballs bake, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot

*add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and saute for 5-6 minutes

*add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil

*add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook 6 - 8 minutes

*add the meatballs and simmer 2 minutes

*taste for salt and pepper

*stir in the fresh spinach and cook 1 minutemore, until the spinach is just wilted

*serve with extra grated cheese


1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
3/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water ( 105 - 115 degrees F)
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
Sponge (above)

2-3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

TO MAKE THE SPONGE: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large mixing bowl, whisk it in, and let stand about 10 minutes (until creamy). Stir in the flour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until very bubbly and doubled (about 45 minutes).

TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl, whisk it in, and let stand 5-10 minutes, until creamy. With a wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture and olive oil into the sponge and mix well. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour, stir in the salt and remaining flour, and mix until the dough is well blended. Knead on a lightly floured surface until soft and velvety, 8 - 10 minutes.
FIRST RISE: Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 1/4 hours, until doubled.

SHAPING AND SECOND RISE: The dough will be soft, delicate, and filled with air bubbles. Flatten it on an oiled 11 X 17-inch baking pan and press it out with oiled hands. The dough will be sticky and may not cover the bottom of the pan. Cover it with a towel and let it relax for 10 minutes, then stretch it again. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 mintues to an hour, until the dough is filled with air bubbles. Just before baking, dimple the vigorously with your knuckles, then drizzle olive oil over the dough , and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a baking stone inside it. Place the focaccia pan directly on the stone and spray the walls and floor of the oven with cold water 3 times during the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the top is golden. Remove to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Don't be afraid of yeast. Nothing is more calming than kneading dough. I love my food processor, but never use it to make bread.


  1. I'm wishing my kitchen smelled of fresh foccacia and soup right now. This sounds perfect for this cold dark night. Too bad you didn't have leftovers ;)

  2. MMMMmmmm. Bread and soup are the perfect combinations for this dark and cold time of year. Kneading bread is one thing I really miss about our new gluten-free lifestyle. I make yeast bread and rolls, but without wheat gluten to hold things together, the dough is always too soft and sticky to even touch with your hands. At least there's no worry about overmixing and overkneading, but I do miss the rhythm of kneading bread. Great job on your supper!

  3. you are amazing Arlene. I haven't had Italian wedding soup in about 30 years and the foccacia MMMMMMM I can almost smell it. if I spent that much time in the kitchen I wouldn't get any sewing done. lol

  4. Oh how I love soups. Now that must be surprising because of my weight. I love too many other things, too -- LOL.

    You can post any of your soup recipes here and I'll be a happy camper.

    Love and Hugs, Peg

  5. French sables... what do those taste like? I read about them in Dorie's book, but couldn't quite imagine them...

  6. I've heard of Italian Wedding Soup but have never tried it. After looking at all the ingredients you use...I WANT SOME RIGHT NOW!! Will you send me some? :)
    I think that after you make yur penne a la vodka with lobster you'll be in a celebratory mood!:p Sounds good.

  7. I wondered about Ina's recipe when I saw it and I'm glad to know its so good. Your focaccia looks wonderful too!

  8. how comforting soup + foccacia! i made a batch with onion + garlic while back ago and so surprised my kids gobbled it all up included the oven roasted onions atop!

  9. Something filling, yet people will want for more, those were the perfect combination of things for a good food to eat on a wedding reception. On my friend's evening outdoor reception in San Francisco, they served a variety of Italian and French cuisine to the guests under the tent that they got on rental with tables and chairs included.

  10. Something filling, yet people will want for more, those were the perfect combination of things for a good food to eat on a wedding reception. On my friend's evening outdoor reception in San Francisco, they served a variety of Italian and French cuisine to the guests under the tent that they got on rental with tables and chairs included.


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