Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Italian Wedding Soup with Veggie Balls

This soup was very delicious once all put together. It takes some time to prepare but worth the effort.
For the soup: 
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 oz. fresh basil leaves* (I used 2 frozen cubes)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 quarts (=12 cups) cold water
1 bunch swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
1 zucchini, diced
2 parmesan rinds
 kosher salt
18-20 oz. spinach and cheese tortellini
For the veggie balls: 
1 large eggplant, unpeeled
1 cup panko, plus more for coating veggie balls
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
Extra virgin olive oil, for cooking

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and basil. Pulse until the entire mixture is very finely chopped and almost forms a paste. Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven over high heat and add the paste into the pot. Cook until the mixture has released most of its liquid and is beginning to dry out a bit, about 5-7 minutes. Add the water to the pot gradually, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you do so. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes. *(I used a hand blender to puree before continuing to the next step as my "paste" was a bit chunky.)
Stir in the chard, kale, zucchini, parmesan rinds and salt. Cook covered for 25 minutes and then uncovered for 20 minutes more. Add the tortellini during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
While the soup is simmering, make the veggie balls. Chop the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Bring a medium to large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Drain the eggplant in a colander and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop the cooked eggplant, then transfer to a medium bowl.

Into the bowl with the eggplant, add the panko, parmesan, parsley, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add in the egg. Stir until evenly combined, then form the mixture into 1 inch balls. Coat each ball in panko. Add a generous amount of olive oil to a heavy skillet (I used about ¼ cup) and heat over medium-high. When the pan and oil are very well heated, add the veggie balls in an even layer. Turn the balls gently as they cook until all sides are browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. When the soup is finished cooking, add a few veggie balls to each bowl.
Source: adapated from Annie's Eats
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