Italian Wedding Soup

Chicken soup


1 chicken, 3-4 lbs. or chicken thighs
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
small bunch of parsley
2 tsps. salt
8-10 peppercorns

I like to start out with skinless chicken, so you have less fat in the soup. If you're just using thighs, skin them, but don't use boneless ones, if you can help it. The bones add to the flavor.
Place the chicken in a large pot, then add water to cover by at least an inch or two. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Skim off the scum that forms on the top, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about two hours.


Meatballs


I used to deep-fry these until several years ago, when I started broiling them to eliminate a lot of the fat. Nobody ever notices any difference and it's a lot healthier.

2 1-2 - 3 pounds of ground meat (I'm more likely to use ground turkey now, but the traditional mix is pork, veal and beef)
about 1/3 of a large loaf of sturdy white Italian bread, preferably a day old
about 1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Trim the crusts off the bread. Dry the crusts in the oven and use to make bread crumbs for another recipe.
Tear the bread into chunks and place into a bowl with the milk. Let the bread soak for at least 15 minutes or until it has absorbed the milk and softened. Squeeze as much milk as possible from the bread and discard the milk (or give to the cat). Squish the bread pieces with your fingers into a bowl with the ground meat until there are no big lumps. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well with your hands. Shape into round balls. Place on a baking sheet or broiling pan and broil or bake at high heat (450 - 500), watching carefully so they don't burn. When they have a nice brown crust, turn them over and brown on the other side. 


Assembly


Bring the chicken soup to a simmer. Add the meatballs and cook for about 15 minutes or until the flavors have had a chance to blend. Add a handful of chopped greens (escarole, spinach, or wild greens) and some pasta (tortellini, small bowties, tubetti or whatever you like.) Cook until the pasta is done and serve with grated parmesan cheese.