Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Greens and Italian Wedding Soup

 While the clothes were soaking up the early Spring sun and get their drying done, I thought I'd venture into the winter mulched garden to grab some freebie greens that I noticed were peeking up through the leaf mulch.  First up was the Giant Red Indian Mustard.  Don't let its diminutive size fool you, this mustard green packs a lot of flavor and tastes best when the leaves are smaller.  This one reseeded itself from last years planting and I'm all the more happy about it as it's one less thing I have to plant!  

Giant Red Indian Mustard

The next green on the list is my swiss chard.  I'm thinking this is its second year as it has come up in the garden in the same place I planted it last year.  It's a bienniel, so it will go to seed, but not before I've used it's leaves in a variety of dishes.

What's the nutritional deal with chard?  Well, it's a good source of Thiamin, Folate and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.  

I've already added these greens to my chicken noodle soup, but I realized that swiss chard is also very good in "Italian Wedding Soup."  So, I'm including a recipe of the soup because it's so tasty and the swiss chard adds to its delicious flavor.  

So, soak up the scrumptious color of this green and try whipping up the soup.  If you don't want to use chard (you can find it at most produce isles), then spinach is a highly respectable substitute. Enjoy! 

Swiss Chard



1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper

12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound of swiss chard, coarsely chopped (1 pound of spinach  would be a good substitution)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the meatballs: Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese, beef and pork. Using 1 1/2 teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and greens and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the curly endive is tender, about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with parmesan cheese if desired.

Note:  Not into making meatballs?  Use some mild or hot Italian sausage as a substitute.  Simply crumble up and cook until done and then add to soup.  You can also just use a small pasta shape and cook in the broth if you don't want to use the egg/cheese noodles. 
(Original recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis, Food Network)

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