When I grow up, I want to be Ina Garten.
I’ll move easily in intellectual circles, serve hand crafted cocktails to my witty friends and gather fresh herbs from the garden I’ve cultivated outside the door of my East Hampton cottage.
I’ll effortlessly pour pomegranate martinis in my sunny, spotless white kitchen, then whip up multi-course dinners while narrating each challenging step in a calm, pleasant voice.
“Now, how easy is that?”
Right now I’m thrilled to dig an uncorked bottle of wine out of the back of the refrigerator when company stops by. My herb garden currently boasts a single herb, rosemary, and even it is wearing a sad winter droop.
I have to take my Barefoot Contessa assimilations in moments, but I’m proud to say I had a big one Sunday afternoon.
Alone in the house with a fat chicken and a big bunch of spinach, I made something I’ve been wanting to cook for years — Italian Wedding Soup.
For a key ingredient, the chicken meatballs, I turned to my good friend Ina, who has never led me astray. The result thrilled me.
As I ladled it out on a blustery Sunday evening, and sprinkled grated cheese on top, I said to my family, gathered round, “Hot Italian Soup, now how bad could that be?”
Next stop, the Hamptons.
The tube-socked Contessa’s Italian Wedding Soup
(For the soup)
1 whole chicken
1 medium onions, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can chicken broth (Don’t tell Ina)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Place the chicken in a stock pot and add enough water to cover the chicken. Add chopped onions, carrots, stewed tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for three hours. Carefully remove the chicken (I use a mesh strainer).
Set chicken aside. (After it cools you can debone it and use the chicken in other recipes.)
(For the meatballs)
1 1/4 pound ground chicken
2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsps. Worcesteshire Sauce
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (I was supposed to use Parmesan and Pecornio but it was chilly outside and I didn’t want to shop.)
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix these all together, form little balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Now comes the hard part. Wait for everyone to come home so you can serve up your masterpiece. Once your family is properly assembled, add 12 ounces (a lot) of fresh spinach to the broth. It cooks down quickly. Then add the meatballs and let them simmer until they heat through.
Serve with a sprinkling of Swiss Cheese (unless you have an Italian cheese. If you do, then use that.)
Slurp it up an enjoy!