Say `I do' to a quick Vegas Wedding Soup

DINNER TONIGHT

December 28, 2005|By RENEE ENNA | RENEE ENNA,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Like the occasion it is named for, Italian Wedding Soup is an elaborate to-do. This main-dish soup has richly seasoned broth that typically stars meatballs, assorted vegetables, tiny pasta and a green such as escarole or spinach.

This quickie version (like a Vegas wedding) speeds things up by using convenience products. Start by walking down the aisle - the frozen-food aisle, in this case - of your supermarket for the frozen meatballs.

This is a great dunking soup, too. We love to use ciabatta, a soft, pillowy Italian bread with a sturdy exterior. But any Italian bread will work.

Menu Suggestion

Vegas wedding soup

Ciabatta

Tossed salad with Italian dressing

Cake with white frosting

Vegas wedding soup

6 servings -- Preparation time: 15 minutes -- Cooking time: 20 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon each: dried Italian herb seasoning, dried fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

freshly ground black pepper

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

18 frozen Italian meatballs

1 package (16 ounces) mixed frozen vegetables, preferably an Italian blend

2/3 cup small dried pasta, such as ancini de pepe or miniature shells

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 bag (5 ounces) baby arugula or spinach

1/4 cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat the oil over medium heat in a stockpot or Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Italian seasoning, fennel seed, salt, red-pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook 30 seconds. Pour in the broth. Increase heat to high. Heat mixture to a boil.

Add the meatballs, vegetables, pasta and vinegar to stockpot. Lower heat to medium. Cook until vegetables are heated through and pasta is cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in arugula. Cook until leaves have wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve soup with grated parmesan or Romano cheese.

Per serving: 293 calories; 14 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 29 milligrams cholesterol; 25 grams carbohydrate; 19 grams protein; 417 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber

Renee Enna writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe and analysis.

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