This week I am making a soup to enter into the monthly cooking club challenge at Food Network Canada. The recipe is for Nadia G's Italian Stracciatella with Mini Meatballs, Cheese Tortellini and Baby Spinach. I made a few changes, as usual. For starters, I don't really like store bought tortellini all that much. I didn't have time to make my own pasta from scratch in time this week, so I am made cheese tortellini using won ton wrappers. Store bought tortellini always seem a bit too doughy to me and I never really like the flavour of the fillings unless I am buying homemade tortellini, fashioned by italian grandmothers but I also didn't want to have to spend a ton of money on really good quality pasta when it's so easy to whip them up at home. It just shows you that you don't have to make homemade pasta dough to make stuffed pasta like ravioli and tortellini. I have used won ton wrappers for years for stuffed pasta with great success.
I also didn't make her liquid gold chicken stock because I have a freezer full of good stock already so I used my own. I like to use homemade ingredients as much as possible when I can and buying an organic chicken to use for stock just isn't in my budget. If I am spending the money to buy an organic chicken I am doing something more exiting than boiling it. I used turkey stock but I don't think it made a huge difference in the end and if it did, it was probably for the better.
The other thing I did was make half the meat mixture into tiny meatballs the day before I made the soup and I made the other half into regular sized meatballs to freeze for future use with pasta. I didn't want to make a whole batch of the soup, just enough for the three of us to eat at one sitting. It doesn't strike me as a soup that would be great the next day since you cook the pasta IN the soup. I also thought that, perhaps, if the meatballs sat in the stock overnight, they might flavour the soup more.
A tbls of pesto to the meatball mixture really gave it some kick because it seemed like it might be a bit bland. Another food network canada member, Wayner, made it first and said he did find them sort of boring so my instincts were correct. In a simple soup with such mild flavours, a bland meatball is not going to make it very exiting and any wow factor is going to have to fall on the shoulders of those little meatballs.
Okay, so I changed a lot of things about this recipe but I stayed true to the spirit of it!
|won ton wrappers|
|add some filling|
|wet two edges with water|
|fold over and seal edges with fork|
|fold up the pointy end of the triangle|
|fold it back the other way and bring ends together|
Recipe with my changes:
- 1 egg
- handful parsley, finely minced
- big pinch of Greek oregano
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 tbls pesto
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 pound ground pork, Boston butt
- 1/4 pound ground sirloin
- 6 cups chicken stock
- cheese ravioli
- 1 egg plus the white leftover from making the cheese filling
- pinch sea salt
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated for topping
- In a bowl, combine the egg, parsley, Greek oregano, garlic, parmesan, pesto, salt, pepper and Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Mix together. Add the Boston butt and sirloin and mix for a couple seconds more until flavours are incorporated into meat, don’t over-mix. Roll into tiny balls the size of marbles.
- Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a large pot. Throw in the mini meatballs . Simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature and then leave in the fridge overnight if you do this step the day before or earlier in the day.
- Cheese tortellini: Mix 1 cup ricotta, 3/4 cup grated parmesan, 1 egg yolk, salt and pepper in a bowl. Lay out your won ton wrappers, and put about 1 tbls of filling on each won ton wrapper. Brush two edges with a bit of water and then fold it over, forming a triangle and use a fork to press down on the edges to make sure they are sealed. Then, fold up the corner of the triangle and bend it back the other way, sticking the two ends together to make a tortellini shape. Make your tortellini and set them aside.
- When you are ready to make the soup, bring the stock and meatballs to a simmer and add the ravioli and cook for about 10 minutes. I scooped the ravioli and meatballs out of the broth and set them aside so I wouldn't break them apart when adding the egg (I added the white from my cheese filling to the egg) . In a small bowl, beat together the egg, the leftover egg white and sea salt. Slowly stream the egg into the pot while whisking the broth quickly with a fork to form stracciatella.
- Place a portion of the chopped arugula in a soup bowl. Add a few raviolis and some meatballs on top of that and then pour hot soup over spinach and top with freshly grated parmesan.
Shack and I loved this soup and would happily eat this again and again. Little Shack said he didn't like the cheese in the pasta but he has been home sick today so his opinion doesn't count frankly lol.