Tristen Phipps: Comfort soups are on your winter menu

Tristen Phipps: Comfort soups are on your winter menu

By Tristen Phipps

 

For years, I avoided Italian wedding soup. Frankly, it looked funny and I was certain it was impossible for something that doesn’t look good to taste good.

If I was going to taste this soup, it was going to be in an Italian restaurant — that was settled. It’s like my dad always says, “Don’t go to a steakhouse and order chicken.” You’ve got to eat what earned them their reputation.

With Dad’s advice in mind, naturally, as I sat in an Italian restaurant, I should have gravitated toward spaghetti; but with a stroke of independence, I turned my head to the waitress and said, “Give me the salmon pasta.”

Without the details, I’ll just tell you the moral of the story: Listen to your dad. Do not, I repeat, do not go to an Italian restaurant and order salmon. My sour seafood dish led me to my sister’s Italian wedding soup, and suddenly I wasn’t so bitter that I had ordered poorly.

After finally having a taste of the peculiar little soup, I opted to recreate it. I did a little research on what’s in a typical Italian wedding soup and I twisted it a bit.

Now, before you try this, do heed my warnings:

1. The broth came out a bit salty for my taste, but my sister drank it up like Kool-Aid. If you aren’t a salty person, dilute the broth with 50 percent or equal parts water, according to your preference.

2. The meatballs aren’t attractive. I used ground pork, not beef. Pork doesn’t brown the way that beef does, so if you want your soup to be picturesque, stick to beef.

3. I used tortellini and mini penne because I love cheese and I couldn’t find Acini di Pepe. I had good intentions with tortellini, and it would have been brilliant if I had read the box and gotten cheese tortellini. So, read the box. Tortellini will totally work and it will be wonderful if it has the proper cheese in it, or in my case, cheese at all.

HEARTY ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

Ingredients:

3/4 one small onion, grated

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 large egg

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 slice white bread (crusts trimmed), grated or shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1 pound ground pork

8 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup fresh spinach

6-8 ounces pasta (your choice but should be mini)

Directions:

Stir the onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, pepper and bread crumbs in a large bowl to blend. Then add the cheese and pork. Shape the mixture into 1/2-inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Don’t be alarmed, you aren’t baking them.

In a large pot, bring the broth and spinach to a boil. Add the meatballs (uncooked) and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick. Add the pasta and cook (covered) at a low boil for approximately 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

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Nothing belongs in soup more than chicken. Soup without chicken is like hot chocolate without marshmallows.

This is arguably the simplest soup you’ll ever prepare. Now, the simplicity may or may not directly correlate with my neglect to purchase rice, but nonetheless, it’s yummy. (Adulthood, i.e. remembering to bring a grocery list after work, is proving more difficult than I anticipated.)

SHREDDED CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 white onion, diced

3 chicken breasts, thawed and sliced

48 ounces chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons cilantro

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

In a large pan, heat olive oil over low-medium heat. Once heated, add garlic and onion. Then add chicken.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat chicken broth. Once heated, add cumin and coriander to broth. Cover until chicken is fully cooked.

Once cooked, shred chicken in pan. Add lime juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Combine chicken and contents of pan with broth. Add cilantro. Leave covered on low heat for 5 minutes. Serve.

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