This recipe came to me through my dad. He did, in fact, have a Grandma Vecchiola who immigrated to the United States from Italy and planted her American roots in Chicago. This is not her soup; it’s my dad’s soup, and he wanted me to call it Grandma Vecchiola’s. We’re going to call this his creative licence.
This comforting soup is essentially an extra hearty, Italian version of chicken noodle soup. I gotta say, I prefer this to any chicken noodle I’ve ever eaten.
The original recipe came from the Great Chicago Italian Recipes website and my dad adjusted it to his tastes. I also gave it my stamp by making my own rotisserie chicken in the instant pot and I used the carcass to make bone broth, as well as subbing baby spinach for regular. It was very easy to make this an inexpensive, entirely organic soup.
Making your own chicken and bone broth is less expensive and more nutritious, but it does take some extra time. It is absolutely acceptable to buy a cooked rotisserie chicken and use canned/boxed chicken stock.
When it’s time to make and saute the meatballs, I just pull a stool up to the stove and make myself comfortable. You’ll be temped to make your meatballs bigger and bigger to just get it over with. Don’t! Those little bite size babies are perfect and if you make them too big, they won’t fit on a spoon. It will just be harder for you later.
Full disclosure! Making the little meatballs takes some time, so just make this a double batch and then you’ll have dinner tonight and two extra family meals to put in the freezer. You’ll need a big pot, but it’s totally worth it. This would also be a great for delivering a meal to a family in need.
I am a big soup for lunch gal, so I also recommend freezing extra soup in pint ball jars. Ball jars are great because you can freeze the soup in them, then pop right into the microwave to defrost and reheat without wasting any plastic or creating extra dishes for yourself.
I am posting this recipe before I meant to as it was requested by several friends after I posted a pic to Instagram and Facebook. I will work on better photos (the next time I make the soup) and update this post when I have the awesome photos that you deserve.
Grandma Vecchiola’s Italian Wedding SoupCourse: Soups, Main DishCuisine: Italian
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups shredded Rotisserie chicken
2 bunches long green onions
3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup Fregola sarda (little pasta balls) *see notes
1 pound ground pork (can also do 1/2 beef)
1 bunch of long green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
- Make your meatballs first. Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. I use my hand to incorporate all the ingredients. A fork would be another good option.
- Heat a large skillet over low heat. Once the skillet is hot, start making and browning your meatballs in the pan. Your meatballs should be about the size of a teaspoon. A 1 tsp cookie scoop is ideal for making the baby meatballs. Place your meatballs on the outer edge and work your way into the middle. Once the pan is mostly full, turn the heat up to medium and gently begin turning the meatballs to brown them on all sides. They do not need to cook through, as they will poach in the soup.
Remove browned meatballs from pan and set aside until you’ve made all your meatballs.
- Soup: In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and cook 30 more seconds while stirring.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to simmer.
- Add the shredded chicken, chopped spinach, and parsley and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add the browned meatballs and cook an additional 20 minutes. *See notes about adding pasta!
- Top with Parmesan and enjoy!
- Adding Pasta: If you are going to eat the soup without freezing any, add the pasta when adding the meatballs and add an additional 1 cup of water to your soup.
- Freezing: If you plan to make a large batch and will be freezing any of the soup, cook the pasta separately and freeze in a small bag separately to add to the soup when reheating. This will prevent the pasta from absorbing too much liquid and becoming soggy.
- A double batch of the recipe will feed a family of six the first night and have plenty for two gallon size bags for the freezer. Three meals in one go.