I know I’m not the only one who threw away all my Nalgene bottles, Tupperware, and scraped-up plastic sippy cups a year or two ago, after learning all that creepy stuff about BPA “leaching” into our water and food (see an article about this on my good pal Steve Casimiro’s excellent website, The Adventure Life). Apparently, this lovely substance (a building block of some plastics) is linked to all kids of health concerns (obesity, brain development issues, and endocrine disruption to name a few), especially in infants and young children. And it’s in many popular baby bottles, like the Avent ones I used. Nice.
At first I didn’t realize that most aluminum can are also lined with BPA. And this is a real problem for me because my eight-year-old son doesn’t really like sandwiches. You’re probably wondering what my kid’s weird food issue has to do with poison gasses wafting out of cans, right? Well, he does like soup, and he wants to bring it to school almost every day for lunch (of course a food evangelist can’t order hot lunch at school, at least not at our school, where hot lunch is usually an icky combination of gelatinous noodles, corn syrup, and white bread—but that’s the subject for another post). He is not the stoutest kid around, so I like to feed him things he loves—otherwise, he spends his lunch hour entertaining his friends with bad jokes and goofy faces (I know, I’ve witnessed this) instead of eating.
So, after panicking about all those cans of soup he’s been eating, I asked my son what his favorite kind is so I could make some for him to bring in his Cars thermos to school. I was expecting chicken noodle or even gumbo—something fairly easy to throw together, right. But no. He said, “Mom, I like that soup with the noodle balls and the tiny meatballs.” So that’s how I found myself making Italian Wedding Soup last weekend instead of planting flowers, which turned out to be a good thing because a) that soup is amazing and b) it’s been snowing here all month (yes, in May), so any flowers I planted would be little frozen relics by now.
The recipe is from on of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, but of course I changed it a bit. First, I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken (although I did still use the chicken sausages), mostly because the turkey was already ground and therefore quicker to get at the store. Also—and this is a shocker—we didn’t have any white wine in the house, so I used Hartley & Gibson Dry Fino sherry instead, although not the full half cup called for in the recipe, since sherry is stronger—well, at least stronger tasting—than wine.
Making the meatballs was time consuming but fun—kind of like playing with play dough, and then instead of frying them, you bake them in the oven, so actually it’s not that messy (except on your hands) or greasy. I doubled the batch of meatballs and froze half of them. They were beyond delicious and didn’t taste at all healthy, even though they are (relatively speaking; after all, they are still meatballs). I also doubled the spinach; it barely fit in the pan at first, but of course it cooked down.
To make a very short story long, the soup was amazing. We ate it for dinner (even my five-year-old liked it; noodles always help—I used mini orrecchiette by the way), and my son has had a thermos of it for lunch every day for week and he’s still enjoying it. And I have a stash of crazy good meatballs in my freezer, which will definitely come in handy…