Fun Fact 1: The Biltmore Estate in Asheville has a Farm to Table Program allowing their chefs to take advantage of the estates gardens and pastures while preparing the menus for each of the on site restaurants.
Fun Fact 2: This program allowed us to have some really neat things, like Biltmore Beef meatballs in the Italian Wedding Soup we selected for our final menu. Yes, the cows were actually 'grown' on site. Cool.
Fun Fact 3: We love Italian Wedding Soup.
Fun Fact 4: Ina Garten has an awesome recipe for Italian Wedding Soup in her cookbook "Back to Basics".
Fun Fact 5: In attempting to recreate the Italian Wedding Soup from our wedding at home, I was able to utilize a number of items from this weeks CSA box, attempting to reproduce the Farm to Table taste of the original. So while we didn't quite grow our own cows for this, we were able to support an amazing local farm.
Fun Fact 6: This actually has nothing to do with our wedding, soup or CSA, but all this talk of farm fresh ingredients reminded me of these two little darlings that showed up in our front yard. (Note: Do not draw any correlations between these two cuties and the meatballs above. Totally unrelated.)
And I'm out of fun (and irrelevant) facts for now, so here's my version of Italian Wedding Soup, inspired by Ina Garten's version, utilizing farm fresh ingredients a few heart healthy revisions.
Italian Wedding Soup
For the Meatballs
1 pound ground pork sausage with sage
1/2 cup cooked bulgur
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
For the Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, minced
1 cup carrots, diced
3/4 cup celery, diced
10 cups chicken stock
1 bunch of arugula (can be substituted for the original 12 ounces baby spinach)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the meatballs. Combine the ground sausage, bulgur, cheese, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. After mixing, drop 1 inch size meatballs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees in oven for 30 to 35 minutes until cooked and browned and cheese is oozing (technical term) from the bottom of each meatball.
Make the soup. Heat olive oil over medium low heat in large soup pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Pour stock into soup pot with vegetable mixture. Add meatballs to pot and simmer another 10 minute to combine flavors. Add roughly chopped arugula or spinach to soup until wilted. Soup can be served as is or topped with additional Parmesan or fresh herbs.
A few personal notes: I left out the pasta, wine, dill and bread crumbs from the original recipe and didn't miss them at all. If you are looking for something a little heartier, it certainly wouldn't hurt to add the pasta back in. We also really enjoyed the little peppery kick from the arugula. A nice change.
Do you have a favorite soup, or maybe just a fun fact of your own to share?