This month’s theme for #SoupSwappers is Let’s Go International; this recipe for Sicilian Meatball Soup brings you the flavors of Sicily in a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs soup. Links to all the other international soups are included.
Hosted this month by hosted by Kathy of A Spoonful of Thyme, #SoupSwappers is in its second month. We are a group of bloggers who will be bringing you soup recipes once a month, on the third Saturday. So be sure to stay tuned for upcoming months where I’m sure you’ll find fabulous recipes to satisfy your soup love.
Since this month was centered around international soup, I decided to do something Italian. Originally, I thought I would do Italian Wedding Soup. Until, that is, I discovered in my research for the recipe that Italian Wedding Soup is really not authentically Italian at all. It’s a Italian-American soup popular in the United States.
While the flavors of Sicilian foods have a lot in common with Italian food, there is also an influence of Greek, French, Spanish and Arab seasoning profiles. For that reason, you’ll see in these meatballs the use of pine nuts and currants, fennel seed, rosemary and oregano. You just won’t believe how good these meatballs are!
True black currants can be difficult to find, but Zante Currants (really a very small grape) can be found in most major grocery stores in the dry fruit section near raisins. If your market doesn’t carry them, you can substitute raisins in this recipe. I know that many of you will think this an odd addition to a meatball, but trust me. They are delicious.
Also, if the sweet Italian sausage you find to use already contains fennel seed, you can omit adding additional fennel seeds. Mine did not have any in it, so I included some in the recipe.
The meatballs are made, formed and cooked prior to adding them to the soup. You can cook them in the oven on a baking sheet, but I put mine in a nonstick skillet and rolled them around until all sides were browned. I didn’t even add any additional oil and they were perfect.
After sautéing leeks, carrot, celery, garlic and zucchini in a bit of olive oil, I added some vermouth to the vegetables. The vermouth imparts the extra elements of the roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, spices with which it is flavored. You could use a dry white wine instead.
The soup base itself is a combination of chicken and beef stock. I used both because I wanted the flavor of each, but you can use one or the other if you prefer. Next I added tomatoes; I used whole tomatoes because of the thick puree they were canned in, but I crushed them by hand as I added them to the soup (you could use already crushed tomatoes if you wish). Next I added rosemary and oregano, and finally the cooked meatballs (to heat through) and some small pasta shells (you could use the small pasta shape of your choice) to cook in the soup broth.
I am giving you the recipes for the meatballs separately from the soup because I will be using these meatballs in a traditional red sauce at some point, too. Both Mr. Saucy and I loved them on their own. So, I hope you’ll try them that way too.
Be sure to check out all the other International Soups in the links below!
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (removed from casing if not packaged in bulk)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1½ cups Panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ½ cup currants
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup half and half (or milk)
- 3 large eggs (beaten)
- 2 tablespoons dry parsley flakes
- 2 tablespoons dry oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (omit if your Italian sausage contains fennel)
- 1½ teaspoons dry crushed rosemary leaves
- 3 small cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients and using your hands mix well.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop out a slightly rounded portion of the meat mixture and lightly form into a ball. You don't want to squish the meatballs, just barely form a ball.
- Continue with this until you have formed all of the meat mixture into meatballs (you should have about 60).*
- Using a nonstick skillet, over medium heat, add the meatballs and cook on each side, gently rolling the meatballs until all sides are browned (about 3 minutes per side).
- Remove to a platter until use in the soup, or a sauce.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup sliced leek (1/4-inch), washed, drained and patted dry
- ½ cup celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup carrots cut into ¼-inch dice
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 cups sliced (1/4-inch) zucchini
- ¼ cup vermouth
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 -28 ounce can whole tomatoes in thick puree (tomatoes crushed)
- ¾ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
- ¾ teaspoon dry oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 cup small pasta shells or other small macaroni
- Sicilian meatballs (see separate recipe)
- In a large stockpot, over medium heat, add the oil to heat.
- Add the leeks, carrot and celery, and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add the vermouth and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the two stocks, tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, salt and ground black pepper.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.
- Add the meatballs and the pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked (depending on the package instructions for the size and shape you use).