There are rainy and chilly days still ahead, but at the farmers' market you can find an early crop of spinach to add the right amount of freshness to this soup. Any dark leafy green, like kale or chard, would work, too.
Here's how this recipe came to be: The Italian wedding soup served at a local restaurant is a favorite of our oldest granddaughter. Despite valiant efforts, I have failed to get the recipe, so I have worked over the years to duplicate it. Originally, I used Italian sausage for the meatballs, but I made the switch to a combination of chicken and chicken sausage for a healthier, leaner soup.
Making the meatballs from scratch is a worthy extra step. Use a small melon ball scoop to shape uniformly sized meatballs – it's easier and cleaner than rolling them by hand.
Warm, crusty Italian bread is a perfect pairing for this soup.
Where to get the goods
For fresh, locally sourced chickens and chicken sausage, try area butchers like Moody's Butcher Shop (locations in Avon and Zionsville, moodymeats.com) and Goose the Market (at 25th and Delaware streets, www.goosethemarket.com).
Find leafy greens at the Indy Winter Farmers' Market (at the downtown Indianapolis City Market, www.indywinterfarmersmarket.org) and the Bloomington Winter Farmers' Market (www.localgrowers.org/wintermarket.html).
For the meatballs:
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.; line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the grated onion, parsley, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
3. Add the beaten egg and milk, and mix well.
4. Add the ground chicken, chicken sausage and cheese, and mix well.
5. Use a small melon ball scoop to shape meatballs. The mixture should yield around 40 meatballs.
6. Place the meatballs on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
For the soup:
1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat.
2. Add the onion and saute for 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil.
4. When boiling, add the pasta and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, until pasta is tender.
5. Add the cooked meatballs and simmer for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.
7. Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese.