Sharon was coming home Labor Day weekend. What could I serve that would demonstrate my love? During her college years she always requested my chicken noodle soup. A few weeks back I had fried a bunch of chicken for my niece’s engagement party, so there were enough backs, wing tips, and giblets to make a stiff stock. I had never made Italian Wedding Soup. Here was my chance.
I pulled the parts from the freezer and turned them into stock so rich it was jelly-like at room temperature. With stock this good, the soup need not be complicated. Instead of starting with ground chicken or turkey for the soup’s meatballs, I used more flavorful sausage which needed very little seasoning. After that, it was classic chicken noodle soup ingredients–great broth, onions, celery, and carrots, and Israeli couscous for the pasta and dill in place of parsley.
Both girls took note of the well-made broth. Maggy, mostly vegan now, slurped up spoonful after spoonful of the life-giving liquid. Exhausted from travel, Sharon savored and respected the well-made brew.
For those with chicken bones in the freezer, it’s time to pull them out. If you don’t have any it doesn’t matter. Homemade meatballs, fresh vegetables, and store-bought broth are still a winning combination.
- ¾ pound chicken Italian sausage, meat removed from casing
- 6 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 2 each: medium carrots and celery stalks
- 6 cups chicken broth
- ¾ cup Israeli (or Middle Eastern) couscous
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 8 ounces (8 cups) baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Mix sausage, breadcrumbs, garlic, Parmesan, and egg. Divide mixture and shape into 24 meatballs. Heat oil in a large soup kettle. Add meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning only once, until well browned, about 5 minutes total. Remove from pan.
- Using additional oil if necessary, add onions, carrots, and celery; saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Add couscous and meatballs; cook to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Add dill and spinach; cook until spinach wilts, a minute or so longer. Adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper.