Italian Soups with Meat
Italian Wedding Soup
Escarole is a slightly bitter green that Italians are fond of using in traditional wedding soup. You can substitute spinach if you prefer. The soup can be made ahead and reheated before serving. There are several variations of this recipe, which are listed below the main recipe.
1 large egg
8 ounces ground veal
8 ounces ground beef
1/3 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt to taste
8 cups chicken broth
Pepper to taste
3 cups escarole, chopped into small pieces
Grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the veal, beef, bread crumbs, parsley, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well. Form the mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Set aside. (Meatballs in this soup are traditionally cooked in the broth. If you prefer, you may bake or saute them first before adding them to the broth.)
In a large pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add pepper to taste. Add the escarole to the broth, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Serve in soup bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
With pasta added:
After adding the meatballs, cook for 5 minutes, then add 3/4 cup of any very small pasta (such as orzo, mini stars, or pastina) and cook for additional time depending on the size of the pasta used, usually 6-8 minutes.
With egg added:
In a bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and dash of salt. Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the simmering soup and cook for 2 more minutes.
Ham, Bean, and Spinach Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, drain top liquid
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons pastina or orzo
1/2 cup cubed smoked ham
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, sugar, and oregano. Cook 10 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Stir in the Parmesan, beans with their liquid, pasta, and ham. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
Lentil and Sausage Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups dried lentils
8 ounces cooked Italian sausage
1/4 cup tomato paste or ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste
8-10 cups water
Put all of the ingredients in a large stockpot. Begin by using 8 cups of water.
Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour or until lentils are tender. If soup is too thick, add more water during cooking process.
Split Green Pea Soup with Ham
“Zuppa di Piselli Secchi”
(Serves 8 to 10)
This soup is usually made with a leftover smoked ham bone when most of the meat has already been removed. If a ham bone is not available, simply cut cubes of smoked ham and add them during the final hour of cooking.
1 pound dried split green peas
6 to 8 cups water
1 smoked ham bone, with some meat attached
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or ketchup)
Salt and pepper
In a large stockpot, combine all the ingredients with 6 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring ocacasionally, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until the peas have broken down into almost a puree. Check the mixture occasionally to see if it is getting too thick; add more water if necessary.
Remove the ham bone from the pot to a cutting board. Cut off the meat, trim the fat, and discard the bone. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. You can refrigerate it at this point, if desired. Reheat the soup for 5 to 10 minutes. If it was refrigerated, you may have to add more water to thin it to your desired consistency.
BREAD AND SOUP
Bread is a natural companion to soup. In Italy, almost every soup is either eaten with bread, made with bread, or garnished with bread. Italians do not necessarily use bread fresh from the oven, as they like to use up leftover loaves.
ITALIAN SOUP RECIPES > ITALIAN SOUPS WITH MEAT
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TIPS FOR FREEZING SOUP
Many soups freeze easily,making them great instant meals for busy nights. Follow these tips for best results.
1. Chill the soup thoroughly before freezing.
2. Freeze soup in plastic containers, leaving about 1/2-inch at the top to allow for expansion. Or fill plastic freezer bags about three-quarters full and squeeze out as much air as possible. Plastic bags can be stored flat taking up less room in the freezer.
3. Freeze soups in small, portion-size containers that are ready to heat and serve. The smaller the container the quicker it will defrost.
4. Label and date your soup containers. As a general rule, stocks and broths can be frozen for up to 6 months; vegetable soups about 4 months; meat, fish or chicken soups about 3 months; and soups with egg and cream about 2 months.
5. Don't be alarmed if pureed soup separates after defrosting. Just whisk it back together again.
6. Soups containing cream, wine, or lemon juice, or those thickened with eggs or flour, don't always freeze well. When reheating, simmer gently and whisk constantly to prevent curdling. Of better yet, add these ingredients after reheating.