After eating a lot of heavier foods during the holidays, I was really craving some lighter fare.  This soup was the answer!  With a broth base and lots of fresh spinach and other veggies, it helped satisfy my body’s need for something nutritious.  And the meatballs – OH, the meatballs!  They were amazingly delicious.  The original recipe called for turkey sausage but I already had the right amount of Italian sausage in the freezer, so I used that instead and I think that was a great decision :)  My other modification was to use less spinach.  The original recipe calls for 12 0z. and I didn’t pay any attention to the package I bought at the store.  Only once I had started cooking did I realize I only bought 7 oz.  However, Ben and I both agreed that the amount of spinach was just right and any more would have been way too much.  Overall this was awesome, and the only thing I’ll do differently next time is add some red pepper flakes for a bit more of a kick!

Best of 2008 – Ice Creams and Sorbets
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Cranberry Sorbet
Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Brownie Bits
Strawberry Ice Cream
Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Italian Wedding Soup
For the meatballs:
3/4 lb. ground chicken
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 tsp. minced garlic
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and black pepper

For the soup:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup 1/4-inch diced carrots
3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta (I used ditalini)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
7 oz. baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, Italian sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.  Mix gently with a fork until well combined.  Form the mixture into 1- to 1 1/4-inch meatballs and place onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.  Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes or until al dente.  Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 additional minute.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten