Recipes Regurgitated: "I Do" to Italian Wedding Soup

After several unsuccessful attempts, I'm happy to announce I've finally found the soup for me. Delicate, flavorful, healthy without being overbearing, robust enough to constitute a full meal--it was so nice I started singing the soup song from Alice in Wonderland. Yes friends, I managed to pull off a recipe with panache and flair and something that (yes!) might even be construed as skill. I made Italian Wedding Soup, which presumably got its name because it is so good you want to marry it (ok that joke was weaksauce but I've been awake for a really long time and I'm tired and dreaming of soooup).

But because we here at Res-o-puh-leese (me), are not swayed by simple declarations of undying love, I'm going to resort once again to my handy-dandy chart of recipe success.

Recipes are awarded 1 to 5 cautious ladles* based on how well they perform in the following categories:
Shopping Ease
Recipe Readability
Health Factor
(full description of categories here)

On to the soup! (recipe below)

Wikipedia says: an Italian American soup consisting of green vegetables and meat.
I say: But so, so much more.

Shopping Ease -- this was pretty good. I substituted spinach for escarole, but all in all everything was very easy to find, and everything pretty cheap. Plus, I got extra ground beef and made hamburgers. Only problem is now I'm left with lots and lots of leftover spinach and parmesan.

Preparation -- another easy one. Hardest part was making the meatballs, and even they didn't take much time. I spent about 40 minutes on the whole thing (effectively timed by the episode of Lost I was watching).

Recipe Readability -- in the manner of the homey local midwest paper wherein I found the recipe, it was unsurprisingly clean and simple. I imagine a 4yr-old and an 80yr-old would have equal ease in reading it. Nothing fancy here, and I chalk not knowing what escarole was to not being I-tally-on

Health Factor -- here, perhaps, the soup took a stumble. The recipe called for extra lean ground beef, but because I was also planning on making hamburgers, I upped the fat content (to, maybe, 15-20%). A similar recipe says the calories are 189 per serving, carbs 16.4g, but presumably mine was a bit higher. That said, the chicken broth is mostly fat free, and spinach, of course, is very good for you.

Taste -- ooooh, very good. The lemon juice gave the broth a tangy kick that was nicely balanced by the spinach. The little meatballs also came out amazingly good--crispy on the outside, soft and slightly cheesy on the inside--they were way, way better than the hamburgers I made, even. There's probably room for improvement; the soup itself isn't that complex and I could have done more, but all in all, I was satisfied and it's probably going to be dinner tonight.

Conclusion -- a keeper. 24/30 ladles

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoon Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup small shell pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Mix together the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, and cheese; shape into tiny meatballs.
Place meatballs in a pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.
Pour broth into a large saucepan over high heat.
Stir in spinach, lemon zest and small pasta.
Cook at a slow boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring frequently.
Add the cooked meatballs.
Serve sprinkled with cheese.

*Cautious ladle by Mongelechi Che
Image of soup from Shippouchan. It is beautiful and I feel bad about stealing it. I'll start using my camera, I promise.

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