What happens when Chicken noodle soup goes on a trip to Italy? You get Chicken Noodle Italian Wedding Soup. It is made with healthy home-made lean chicken meatballs, onions, carrots and celery simmered with greens and noodles. Then it is topped off with the best olive oil you can find and a pile of freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.
Last week I asked you on Facebook and twitter what recipes you would like to see here this month. I loved hearing all of your responses, made some notes, and I (loosely) made some plans. I decided that I would have to include a healthy winter soup recipe for sure, since soup is trending like crazy, and a few of you said you wanted to see a new healthy soup recipe. Myself included. So according to that plan, I wanted to make this mash-up of chicken noodle soup and Italian Wedding soup this week. [What can I say, I am obsessed with mash-up recipes.] Then ironically I got a cold. Well isn’t that appropriate? So, unfortuantly for me, I have to say this soup is cold-tested and approved.
My husband, who also got this cold, ugh, took it for lunch and he says it is also lunchbox approved. Packing a lunch is a great way to save calories and to get more nutrient dense food and vegetables into your daily diet. My husband made the switch to packing his own lunch after I received a copy of this book co-authored by my friend Kristina, and he has already lost 6 pounds!
Lets talk about the ingredients for a moment. The reason I want to do that is that there is a huge distinction in soup made from clean ingredients, and those that rely on gratuitous fat and highly processed ingredients for flavor.
The base of the soup starts out like most, with sauteed mire poix. [Note, I got the onions and carrots for this from our CSA, but I got the celery at the supermarket. Celery is one of the dirty dozen, so if you’re wondering if you should spring for organic celery, at nearly double the price, the answer, unfortunately, is yes.] I added a bit of white wine for acidity and because alcohol helps food taste better. [Seriously it does. That was another tip I learned from Sarah Moulton.] If you happen to have home-made chicken stock on hand I would highly recommend it for this recipe, just be sure to taste the soup as it simmers and adjust the salt accordingly.
For the greens use what you have on hand. Kale and collards will take longer than spinach, escarole or bok choy, but all would be great in this. Just adjust your cooking time a bit.
Now for the meatballs. I was able to find ground Organic Smart Chicken at the store which doesn’t gross me out like “conventional” ground chicken. I have to say, I am sort of annoyed how hard it is to find good ground chicken around here. Here in Vermont, there are local organic chickens on every corner, yet nobody seems to be grinding the meat. If you run into this problem in your area, you can substitute organic ground turkey, which seems to be a lot easier to find, just look for ground breast since it is leaner than the thigh meat. The fennel seeds and Parmesan add a really nice savory Italian flavor to the chicken meat. Oh, and I used these breadcrumbs. They have a pretty clean ingredient list, unlike most. If you are gluten free, these would work well and just sub in your favorite gf pasta.
I have to say that really my absolute favorite part about this soup is that I used some really special olive oil on top of it. My sister and brother-in-law just got back from Sicily and they brought me a tin of olive oil from the 2013 harvest. So it is really green and grassy, and brings me back instantly to the time I spent in Italy. [I want to go back more than ever now.] So if you happen to be the kind of gal (or guy) who keeps more than one kind of olive oil on hand (one for cooking and one for drizzling) this is a recipe where you should pull out the drizzling one for finishing it off. It really does make a difference. [Says the girl who has an entire cabinet devoted to only oil and vinegars.]
I also wanted to point out that I know some of you are watching your calories these days, so I will be including nutritional stats with my recipes all month.
Do you keep two different kinds of olive oil on hand? Are you a label reader? Do you pack a home-made lunch? What recipes are you hoping to see more of in the next few weeks? Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you.
Chicken noodle soup inspired by Italian Wedding soup with healthy home-made lean chicken meatballs, greens and whole-grain pasta.
For the Meatballs
- ½ pound ground chicken
- 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, preferably trans-fat free
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- pinch salt
For the Soup
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon dry Italian Seasonings
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups finely shredded greens, such as kale, bok choy, spinach or escarole
- 1 cup small pasta, preferably whole-grain
- freshly chopped Italian Parsley
- grated Parmesan
- high quality fruity olive oil for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.
- Knead chicken, breadcrumbs, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, yolk, fennel seeds, pepper, garlic powder and pinch salt in a medium bowl with clean hands until all of the ingredients are mixed together. Form into small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each (21 meatballs.) Set on the prepared rack. Bake until cooked through, 11 to 14 minutes.
Make Soup (While meatballs bake:)
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, carrots, celery, onion, Italian seasoning and salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, slightly browned and the bottom of the pot is starting to brown slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine, and cook, scraping up any browned bits as the wine reduces to almost dry, 1 to 3 minutes. Add broth, cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Add shredded greens and continue cooking until the pasta and greens are tender, 3 to 6 minutes longer.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the meatballs.
- Ladle into soup bowls and top with parsley, Parmesan and a drizzle of Parmesan if desired.
Fiber: 1 g. Protein: 10 grams. Sodium: 647. Sat Fat: 1 g.
If you are concerned about your sodium intake, you can curb it by using home made stock, using low-sodium broth, and/or omitting the added salt.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 141
- Fat: 4
DISCLOSURE I received a copy of The Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies for free. This post contains affiliate link/s, which means if you click on the link and purchase that product, I may receive a small commission which helps support me in bringing you bangin’ recipes and content like this. I only link to stuff I love, and all opinions here are my own.