Italian Wedding Soup

Basic Chicken Broth

2 pounds chicken parts (wings, necks, and bones)
4 stalks celery, including leafy tops, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 large whole onion, unpeeled and roughly chopped
1 large whole carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium whole parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped

Juice of one whole lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bunch dill, tied with a string

1 large square of cheesecloth

Pour 12 cups of cold water into a large stockpot, and add the chicken parts, celery, onion, carrot, parsnip, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dill. Bring to a boil.

Rreduce heat to low, and simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not let the soup come to a rolling boil. Using cheesecloth and a strainer, strain the soup, and discard all solids. Add more salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the soup to cool and skim the fat from the top.  The soup can be served with noodles, rice, or a matzo ball. The soup tastes best the following day.   Freeze up to 3 months.

Italian Wedding Soup

For the Meatballs:
2 slices stale white sandwich bread, crusts removed
3/4 pounds lean ground beef
1/4 cup grated Parmeggiano Reggiano, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the Soup:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1pound fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
8 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes
1 cup cooked orzo or other small pasta

Grate the stale bread on a box grater, or pulse into crumbs in a food processor.

Put the bread crumbs in large bowl with 1/3 cup milk  to re-hydrate.  Add the ground beef, 1/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, egg, garlic, and salt, and pepper, and mix until evenly combined. Moisten your hands and gently form the meat mixture into 3/4 to 1-inch meatballs. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs). Put meatballs on a parchment covered baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the meat balls and brown, turning occasionally. If watching calories, you can bake the meatballs as well. Transfer to a platter. Add the onion, celery, carrot to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and red pepper and cook another 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer. Return the meatballs, spinach and orzo to the pot, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Drizzle some olive oil and Parmesan over each serving.  Serves 4