One of my favorite soups of all time is Italian Wedding Soup. I have always wanted to create a healthier version of this soup so here it is! This version is lower in calories, fat and sodium then the typical Italian Wedding Soup but still packs the hearty and delicious flavors that this soup has to offer. So next time you are in the mood for a big bowl of soup give this recipe a try and I am sure you will love it.
Italian Wedding Soup actually has nothing to do with weddings. It basically means a well-blended or “married” mixture of ingredients. In Italian this soup is called zuppa maritata, which means married soup. The Italians named this soup perfectly as I believe these ingredients are a marriage made in heaven!
I find that baking the meatballs prior to adding them to the soup helps to prevent the soup from becoming too greasy. However you can skip this step and add them right into the soup when you add the broth and escarole if you prefer. I suggest making the meatballs about 1/2 inch thick to make it easier to eat and so you get a bit of everything with each bite.
Escarole looks like green leaf lettuce but it is quite different. It is a member of the chicory family and has slightly curled leaves. When eaten raw it has more of a bitter taste, but after you cook it the bitterness subsides. You can eat it raw in salads and is great when paired with a sweeter dressing. Traditionally escarole is the green of choice used in Italian Wedding Soup but you can substitute any greens for this recipe. Spinach is a great substitution if you cannot find escarole. If you are watching your potassium level be aware that spinach contains a higher amount of potassium. Escarole is low in calories and contains a good amount of folate just like other greens, as well as beta carotene or Vitamin A and fiber.
This soup is perfect served alongside a great loaf of bread for dipping. If you have never tried Italian Wedding Soup I encourage you to give it a try. The flavors go so well together, hence the name and has always been one of my favorite soups.
Finishing off the soup with a little lemon juice helps to brighten and bring out the flavors of the soup without having to use as much salt.
Healthy Italian Wedding Soup
Makes 14 Servings (1 Cup per serving)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Total Time: 45 min
1lb Lean Ground Turkey
¼ Cup Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Fresh Herbs, Chopped (Mix of Basil/Parsley)
1 Large Egg, Beaten
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
¼ Tsp Salt
1 Shallot, Minced or 2 Tbsp Onion
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Cup Carrots, Diced (~2 Medium)
1 Medium Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
2 Cups Escarole, Thinly Sliced
8 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ Cup Orzo Pasta
Juice of ½ Lemon (~1 Tbsp)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Form the meatballs into small half inch balls. Place on baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, turning halfway for even browning.
In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat.Add the carrots, bell peppers and onions. Cook for about 6 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Add in the broth, meatballs, escarole, and orzo pasta. Bring to a boil and then cover a cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
Add the lemon juice to the soup and stir to combine.