Wedding Planning and Italian Wedding Soup with Roasted Garlic

It's been almost 6 months that I've been engaged, and only have 11 months until the wedding. Time sure does fly! I'm in full wedding planning mode, and can't really say it's the most fun yet. It's all about booking people and places.

Okay, it's not all work. I found my dress, which I love so much. We did a food tasting and found our caterer. It's fun to try free food. And we're doing our engagement pictures on Friday. Yikes. I'm also planning a fun little surprise for my bridesmaids, which they'll all find out about soon!

Are you thinking I'm nuts for doing all this stuff a year out? Ya, I think so too. But all the other brides out there are booking everything up a year in advance! Gotta do what ya gotta do. 

So, in honor of all the fun and not-so-fun wedding planning, here's a recipe for Italian Wedding Soup.

Italian Wedding Soup with Roasted Garlic
makes 6-8 bowls

for the meatballs
1/2 lb ground beef
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 - 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or hard Gouda
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

for the soup
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 head garlic
3 carrots (peeled and diced)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups Swiss chard (stem removed, rough chop)
1 cup Orzo (uncooked)
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
salt and pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil

Get the oven cranked up to 400 degrees. Take the head of garlic and cut 1/4 inch of the top off, just enough to expose the cloves. Pop into a foil wrapper and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap it up leaving a little vent in the top. Add foil packed to the oven and let roast for 40 minutes. Remove and set aside.

As the garlic roasts, get the meatballs going. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Adjust bread crumbs depending on how liquidy or thick the mixture is. Mix with hands, only until ingredients are combined. Don't squeeze the meat, it will make for tough meatballs.

Form into Brussels sprout sized meatballs. About half the size of a golf ball. Add meatballs to a foil lined baking sheet and pop in oven for 10 minutes. That's all. They are small so it doesn't take much time at all. Take out and let sit on the stove top until ready to drop into the soup

When you get the meatballs in the oven, get the soup going. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and let cook down for about 7 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the paper and add to pot. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let cook for 5 minutes. 

Add broth, water and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add orzo and bring soup back to a slow boil. Let orzo cook for about 6 minutes, until cooked. Add in Swiss chard and meatballs. Let cook for about 3 minutes, until chard has wilted.

Serve with freshly grated cheese.

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