Paleo Italian Wedding Soup (Minestra Maritata)

I only have about a month to go before this semester is over and I can't wait. As you can tell by my few posts this year compared to other years, my academic work has been on overdrive. Not only that, this semester is one of my toughest yet.

Because I have been so busy, I have been primarily subsisting on rotisserie chicken and pre-packaged salad mixes. On the instance I do have time to cook, I prepare something that I can eat for several meals to maximize my time and effort.

Earlier in the semester, I prepared some homemade chicken broth and have kept it in the freezer. There's no comparison between boxed and canned chicken broth! You can't get the same silkiness in boxed broth. To make the broth I basically build up a stock of chicken bones from roasted chickens and less-than-attractive vegetables (carrots, celery, parsley, and onion) and freeze them. Once I get several quart bags of bones and vegetables, I add them to my two stock pots, cover the ingredients with water, and sometimes supplement the ingredients with more fresh vegetables. I season with sage, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves and allow the mixture to simmer for at least an hour and a half. I allow the broth to cool to room temperature then strain it and cool it completely in the refrigerator. I scrape any residual fat off the top to make the broth nearly fat-free. It's so wonderful to have on hand. One other thing I should note is that broth does not keep long in the refrigerator and you also need to be very careful to cool it completely before refrigeration because it can sour easily. If you can't use it within a couple of days, freeze it.

Moving on from that, I made a wonderful soup based on a classic Italian recipe, but I altered it slightly for the Paleo touch. I used almonds instead of breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and I actually liked their nutty flavor in the meatballs. One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the drizzle of egg into the end of the soup-straciatella. It's just like little yellow ribbons running through the soup and they not only look nice but they add more protein to each serving. I also added more vegetables than the original recipe has.

Paleo Italian Wedding Soup (Minestra Maritata)
Printable Recipe

For the meatballs:
16 oz lean ground turkey (93% lean)
2 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup ground almonds or almond meal
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

For the soup:
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 medium onion (the remainder of the onion that had been grated for the meatballs) diced
12 cups chicken broth (I used my own homemade)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
5 oz fresh spinach, cut into ribbons
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Roll the meat into small meatballs (I got about 48). Set aside.
2. Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Heat the oil, then add the celery, carrot, and onion. Sweat the vegetables until they are tender.
3. Add the chicken broth, season with basil and oregano, and bring the temperature up just enough for a gentle simmer. Drop in the meatballs and allow them to cook through. They will float to the top as they cook. Depending on how big the meatballs are, it could take 8-10 minutes for them to cook.
4. Add in the spinach and allow it to soften about a minute.
5. Pour in the egg in a thin stream, stirring with a fork at the point that it meets the soup. Serve the soup immediately.

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