This Italian-American soup is a marriage between savory chicken sausage meatballs and vibrant greens...and they lived happily ever after...Meat Ball Ingredients-
5 links chicken sausage, casing removed (about 1lb.)
1 C. fine bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried fennel seeds, chopped
1 Tb. fresh Italian Parsley, minced
1 dash cheyenne pepper (optional)
4 Tb. olive oil
1 finely chopped white onion
1 tsp. fresh or dried thyme, stems removed minced
1 tsp. fresh or dried sage (optional)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 large carrot, peeled & diced
1 large celery stock, diced
8 cups chicken stock
1 dried or fresh bay leaf
1 C. dried orzo
1 C. fresh baby spinach or arugula
S/P to taste
In a large bowl mix meatball ingredients together. Make small uniform meatballs, the size of a marble. Now, wash your hands please. Cover and refrigerate. Prep veggies.
In a large pot, over medium-high heat, drizzle 2 Tb. oil and caramelize the onion, thyme and sage in olive oil. Be patient with your onion and let it really cook down. Add another Tb of oil if necessary. When the onion turns a golden-brown, add garlic, carrot & celery. Lightly salt & pepper and set veggie mixture aside on a plate after all of the flavors have infused and the garlic looks golden.
In the same pot, over medium-low heat, drizzle 2 Tb. oil. In two or three batches, add meatballs in a single row. Don’t over crowd. Brown them on all sides, turning gently.
Add veggies, chicken stock & bay leaf. On medium heat, bring to a simmer, never boil, for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Lower heat when needed. Add orzo, simmer for another 10 minutes or until veggies are tender, orzo is done and meatballs are cooked through. S&P to taste. Remove from heat and add spinach at the end to maintain it’s fresh, green color. Serve with crusty bread.
Note- if you continue to simmer, the orzo will absorb too much broth...you'll end up with pasta not soup ;)