Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sunny Ireland and Soup Weather in MN

We returned from Ireland on Monday night and are still readjusting from jet lag. It's been cold since we've been home, but I have a new Aran wool sweater that I'm happy to wear. We were so fortunate in Ireland- 6 sunny days, no rain anywhere. Everyone said we brought the sunshine with us as they had a rainy, rainy summer.

I had done my research and we had fabulous meals at great restaurants. Especially in Dublin, even pub lunches were good. My husband drank Guiness in the pubs and I discovered Bulmer's Hard Cider. Ireland has gained a well-deserved reputation for high quality restaurants and fresh local food. The seafood was usually caught the same day. Every meal had fresh steamed vegetables on the side or the entree was served with a salad of fresh greens- sometimes both. In the next few days I'll describe our meals in detail.

For now, I'm posting a soup recipe I taught in a class last winter. As the leaves change colors and the days become cooler, soups are one of my favorite meals.

Italian Wedding Soup

Fresh vegetables, especially spinach, contain lots of antioxidants which are important for good health. Ground turkey is a good substitute for ground beef because it is much lower in fat and cholesterol. I look for lean ground turkey and use low sodium chicken broth. Most soups taste even better the second day but the orzo soaks up much of the broth, so I just add a little water.

Serves 4 to 6

¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
6 cups chicken broth
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
½ cup orzo pasta
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, torn
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

10 oz. ground turkey
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. kosher salt

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add the onion and carrots and cook until softened and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and broth and cover. Simmer 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and orzo and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8-9 minutes.

Meanwhile make the meatballs. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Shape into small meatballs, about ¾ inch across.

Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the meatballs. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until browned, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

Add the meatballs and the spinach to the soup and simmer 5 minutes. Just before serving stir in the basil. Sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan cheese. Copyright Pat Sinclair, 2008

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