The complete downside of a week as busy as this last one: it ends with me looking like a ratty ol’ rag doll, all saggy button eyes and frizzy yarn hair. Not a good look for a rag doll, and not a good look for me. It also results in next to nil blog posts and but a scant amount of personal time for Hulu’d episodes of Vampire Diaries. Yes, I chose Vampire Diaries over blogging. One requires brainpower, albeit minimal, and one requires little more than eyesight with which to admire beautiful beings getting all scandalous and vampirey.
The good side of a week as cray as last week, however: it makes the weekend oh so much more rewarding, and this weekend gets even better because my momma is coming. If you haven’t met my momma, she is half rockstar, half superhero and half wind-up toy. She’s completely generous, thoughtful and full of good intent. Did you say someone misplaced their homeless babushka in the Oak Park suburb of Sacramento? My momma will find her and drive her loopy butt around town until she ends up where she’s supposed to be. What’s that, my momma won the March Madness pool at work? Don’t worry, she’s buying cheese-skirted Squeeze In burgers for the whole office. She’s a little ball of might, my momma. She shops for Christmas all year long. She works weekends. She bakes the world’s best peach pie.
In short: ending a week of sheer exhaustion with a little momma fix? That’s comfort.
Also comforting on a day like today, when the sun is shining but it’s Chilly McGee? A hearty and piping hot bowl of Italian Wedding Soup.
I fell in love with Wedding Soup when I lived in OH where, for some reason, it makes a more common appearance on Italian restaurant menus than it does here in CA. It’s also a relatively easy meal to whip up in large batches, and it seemed like every other week or so (in the winter, at least), there’d be Tupperware full of the stuff in the fridge at work, brought in by me or one of my domestically blessed girlfriends. (I made my best friends in OH at work, which, let me tell you, makes all the difference in how much you enjoy your 9-5. I owe those ladies my sanity and a more than a few bottles of wine. In fact, I could say the same for my work buddies here, sub wine for beer. I’ve been pretty lucky in my professional companions…)
But back to Wedding Soup, when it comes to making the stuff, the biggest sticker in my rear is the tedious act of rolling all those tiny meatballs. Yes, Rachael Ray can crank out a pot of it in 30 minutes or less, but even then, a good 5-10 minutes is spent anxiously rolling those little bitty balls.
Yeah, this version takes the same amount of time, but the “Weeknight” moniker is added due to the fact that there are no meatballs. Or rather, there are no balls. And, it’s just as tasty on the weekends, of course, which is why I’m sharing it again here and now (the first appearance was in my Full Circle guest blog post a couple months ago).
Anyway, I’m gonna go hang with my momma, and I highly suggest you go make some soup.
You’ll have a ball. Or will you?
Weekday (Turkey) Wedding Soup with Spinach and Farfalle
Cooking time: 30 mins | Serves: 4 plus leftovers
Note: This one-pot wonder has all the flavor of Italian Wedding Soup with twice the crowd-pleasing veggies and a fraction of the prep. Rather than rolling individual meatballs, seasoned turkey is simply crumbled straight into the bubbling broth. Same taste, less time – perfect for a rustic weeknight meal. I slice the veggies into quick, pretty half-moons. And if you’re using a store bought chicken stock, I love Better Than Bouillon’s Reduced Sodium variety, but any controlled sodium stock or broth will work.
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 small potatoes, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 2 cups (packed) baby spinach, washed
- 2 springs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp garlic power
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste)
- 1 tsp salt + extra for seasoning veggies
- ½ tsp pepper + extra for seasoning veggies
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/3 lbs lean ground turkey
- 8 cups chicken stock (see note)
- 4 oz. dry farfalle pasta
Heat olive oil over med-high heat in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add sliced onion, potatoes, carrots and thyme (along with a dash of salt and pepper) and sauté until onion becomes fragrant and begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and deglaze pan, scraping up brown bits. Increase heat and bring to boil.
While mixture is coming to a boil, mix together fennel seed, garlic powder, onion powder, chili flakes, salt, pepper and paprika in a large bowl. Add turkey and toss to combine with a fork. When soup begins to boil, crumble turkey mixture into hot broth, about a 1/3 at a time. Stir gently – the idea is to avoid breaking the turkey up toomuch. Return soup to a boil and add pasta; then cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Stir in zucchini and spinach; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove thyme sprig and serve with good crusty bread or garlicky croutons.