Italian Wedding Soup

I mentioned yesterday that I am a Southern girl, so another fact about Southerners…..we use venison (aka deer meat) for absolutely everything.  At least around our house we do!  Reasons for this:  we have it on hand, it is a leaner meat, and we like it a lot!  So tonight we had Italian Wedding Soup, made with homemade Venison meatballs.

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Pictured are the ingredients you will need to make your meatballs.  I forgot to set the ketchup bottle out, but you will need that as well. 

Here’s an ingredient list for your meatballs, and for the rest of the soup: 

1 1/2 lb. deer (or turkey or beef)

handful of crackers (I prefer Ritz for this, but all we had were Saltines and they did the trick.  I started tonight with maybe 6 or 7 crackers, and after combining the meat mixture I felt it was too loose and added about 4 or 5 more crackers to the mix.)

1 egg (we only use egg whites at our house)

garlic powder (1/2 tsp. or more if you love garlic)

salt & black pepper (to taste)

minced onion (at least a Tablespoon)

dried parsley (I use parsley liberally – several Tablespoons)

sugar (I would say no more than 1/2 tsp.)

cheddar cheese (maybe a couple of Tablespoons worth of cheese – not too much)

ketchup (one good squirt – probably around 2 or 3 Tablespoons)

Ingredients for the soup:

Meatballs (I had 29 meatballs tonight)

Chicken broth

Spaghetti noodles (gluten-free, whole wheat or regular should work just fine – I did not use an entire package of noodles.  Just eyeball it – you want enough noodles that your soup doesn’t look like chicken broth with a few floaties, but you don’t want it as thick as spaghetti, either.)

16 oz. Frozen spinach (16 oz. is probably way too much spinach for most people – so unless you really like spinach like us, I would only use half the package.)

So let’s get started on the meatballs.  I am one-quarter Italian and this is the recipe handed down from my great-grandparents to my mom, and from her to me.  Of course, the original recipe uses ground beef, but I have made it with all of the meats listed above and it is good with any of them.  Because this recipe is an old traditional recipe, it has never had the amounts written down.  It is one of those trial and error recipes.  The first few times I attempted it, they turned out okay, but not exactly like my mom’s.  These days….YUM!!!!  This is also the way I make traditional meatballs for my spaghetti (which I will have to post one day!).

Combine all the ingredients for your meatballs in a large mixing bowl.

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Take off any rings and jewelry and thoroughly wash your hands, because the only way to mix this up is with your bare hands!  Squish the meat with the ingredients until it is well-mixed.  Then form into small 1 inch balls (or smaller).  I thought I was being so smart today and placed a baking rack inside my pan to cook the meatballs on, to help cook out the extra grease.  However, I forgot to spray the rack with cooking spray and they were slightly stuck.  So spray your pan!

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Cook the meatballs at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, then set aside to cool while you put the soup together.

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For your soup, bring chicken broth to a boil (I add some water to the broth – personal preference), and add your frozen spinach.  Go ahead and salt and pepper to taste.  When spinach is almost cooked, add in your noodles and meatballs. Once your noodles are tender and the seasoning is to your liking, your soup is ready!  It is not the prettiest soup, but the taste is so good!  My 2-year-old cleaned his bowl and my 5-year-old ate half an adult-sized bowl, so give it a try to see what you think!!!!

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