Gluten Free Italian Wedding Soup

This soup takes me back more than 60 years, to my Italian grandmother’s kitchen.  As a child, she would make this for me all the time.  So many little meatballs!  I was only nine years old when she passed away, but the flavors of this soup are etched in my mind.

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Of course, those tiny meatballs are the star of the recipe.  My younger self most definitely did not appreciate the love that went into making them!  Those tender little bites are what I remember best, so for my gluten free recreation I used ground veal.  Just one taste and I knew I had made the right choice!

Note ♪ If ground veal is not available, substitute ground beef, pork, turkey, etc.

Believe it or not, there were only 2 ingredient swaps needed to make Italian Wedding Soup gluten free.  First, the breadcrumbs.  I am a big fan of Aleia’s gluten free seasoned breadcrumbs, and they were perfect in the meatballs.  Second, the soup pasta.  I was thrilled to find Gluten Free Acini de Pepe at Bella Italia Food Store this year.  It is close to the pastina shape that my grandmother would have used, and you really can’t tell that it’s gluten free!

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs
For the Soup
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • 32 oz. carton gluten free chicken broth
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 6 oz. gluten free soup pasta
  • 6 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan for serving

Preparation:

Combine the first 5 meatball ingredients (everything but the olive oil) in a bowl and mix well with your hands.

Use a half teaspoon to form tiny little meatballs, about 3/4″ diameter.  Roll them between your palms and set them on a plate or sheet of waxed paper.

Heat a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil and brown the meatballs for just a few minutes over medium low heat.  Don’t crowd the pan, cook the meatballs in batches if needed.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the meatballs and drain them on a plate lined with paper towels.

Note ♪ You can prepare the soup up to this point the night before, just refrigerate the meatballs and continue with the recipe when ready.

For the soup, add the onions, celery and carrots to a soup pot with a little olive oil.  Stir until the veggies begin to release their liquid, then add the garlic and cook one minute longer.

Add the broth, stock and seasonings.  Cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.  Cook the pasta separately, according to package directions.

Turn off the heat.  Add the baby spinach and stir to wilt.

Return the meatballs to the pot to warm through.

Drain and rinse the pasta under warm water and add it to the soup.

I find that gluten free soup pasta can be gummy, so it is best cooked separately, drained and rinsed to remove some of that starch.

Serve with finely grated cheese, use the good stuff!

This soup was just the thing for a cold winter evening!  It would be a wonderful first course for a holiday dinner.

Friends, I hope you enjoyed this post!  I know that my grandmother would be so pleased that I made this soup in her memory.

My Grandmother Caterina and I, 1960

Be sure and check out some of my other Gluten Free Soups as well as some helpful links on where to find Gluten Free Soup Pasta.

Notes ♪♫ In some recipes for Italian Wedding Soup, the raw meatballs are dropped right into the soup.  I like the extra flavor you get from browning, and it removes some of the fat at the same time.

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Veal Appetizer Meatballs

Tiny veal meatballs are the perfect party food, great for small plates or an appetizer before the main course.  Unlike their larger cousins, these tender little meatballs are just the right size to pop into your mouth!  You can make up a quick sauce for dipping, or use a good gluten free jar sauce (I won’t tell!).

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The Lazy Gastronome

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. each Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, marjoram, sugar

Meatballs:

Preparation:

First we’ll make an easy marinara sauce.  In a heavy covered skillet or Dutch Oven, cook the garlic and onion in a little olive oil.  When the onions are translucent, push them to the sides of the pan and add the tomato paste in the center.  Let it toast for a minute before stirring it into the onions.

Add the tomato sauce along with the Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, marjoram and sugar.  Stir well, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Next we’ll make the meatballs.  Combine the beaten egg and Italian seasoning.  In another bowl combine the bread crumbs and potato flakes.

Add the veal into the egg mixture and work it in with your hands.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the veal and use your hands to thoroughly combine.

Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.  Divide the veal into 12 portions and form small meatballs.  Arrange them on the baking sheet, leaving space in between.

Broil on high for 4-5 minutes per side, turning once.

After broiling, let the meatballs rest for 15 minutes at room temperature to set.  You can also make them a day ahead and refrigerate.

Before serving, add the meatballs to the sauce for 10-15 minutes to warm through.

Enjoy them as an appetizer with extra sauce for dipping.  Or, for a small plate idea, serve 3 little meatballs over 3 gluten free ravioli.

Notes ♪♫  I hope you enjoyed this post!  For more meatball recipes check out my traditional, dinner sized Italian meatballs and my Thanksgiving inspired Turkey meatballs.

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Gluten Free Veal Meatballs with Pappardelle

Pappardelle are large, wide ribbons of pasta originating in Tuscany. According to Wikipedia, the name Pappardelle derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up.  In this dish, pappardelle noodles are paired with delicate veal meatballs in a mushroom wine sauce with just a touch of sour cream.  What a meal, and gobble it up we did!

These days, common pasta shapes like penne and fusilli are widely available in a variety of gluten free grains.  Still, I have yet to find an affordable gluten free replacement for pappardelle.  Read on to see how I quickly recreated the wide noodles I was missing with this easy kitchen hack, here’s a hint!

 

4 Servings

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Ingredients:

For the Pappardelle:

  • 6 ready bake gluten free lasagna sheets

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For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb. ground veal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Italian parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. potato flakes

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For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup gluten free chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot starch

Preparation:

To make the pappardelle, I soaked the lasagna noodles in hot water to soften them up, just enough to cut through.  After about 10 minutes I used a pastry wheel to break each noodle into wide ribbons.  The edges were a little jagged but overall I was happy.

To make the meatballs, whisk the egg, garlic, onion, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the veal and mix well, using your hands.

Add the breadcrumbs and potato flakes, and work thoroughly into the meat mixture.

Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.  Form 12-14 small meatballs, 1-1/2″ in size.

Broil the meatballs 4 minutes on each side, turning once.  The meatballs will still be a little pink, that’s fine.  They will finish cooking in the sauce.

Set up a large pot of salted water to boil.

To make the sauce, cook the onions and garlic in a heavy skillet or braising pan with a little olive oil.  Add the mushrooms, and cook until they begin to release their liquid.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the wine and all but 1/4 cup of the chicken broth.

Add the spinach and stir it in to wilt.

Whisk the reserved 1/4 cup chicken broth, arrowroot starch and sour cream together until smooth and stir into the skillet.  Return the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and simmer a few minutes until heated through.

To finish the dish, cook the pasta noodles for about 3 minutes, just until al dente.  Drain the pasta and use tongs to drop the noodles into the skillet (so they don’t stick together).  Garnish with Italian parsley and serve.

Notes: ♪♫  Someday soon I will make pappardelle noodles from scratch.  Until then, I can absolutely recommend the  Barilla ready bake gluten free lasagna noodles that I used in this recipe.  I loved them in this traditional meat Lasagna recipe and will use this hack again to cut noodles of any length and width that I prefer!

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Gluten Free Spaghetti and Meatballs

A word of Caution- This recipe contains oats.

A recent statement from Gluten Free Watchdog states that they cannot currently recommend ANY brand of gluten free oats.

Whether or not you continue to consume oats is a personal choice.  As we await more information, I will preface any recipes that include oats with a link to this important statement from Gluten Free Watchdog, an independent, subscriber-driven gluten-testing organization.  About | Gluten Free Watchdog

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Growing up in an Italian family I have fond memories of our Sunday dinners with my parents, grandparents, my sister and I.  There was always a huge pot of sauce on the stove with meatballs, sausage, sometimes a roast or even bracciole.  My mother made her “gravy” in generous amounts and froze the leftovers, enough for several more meals.  Then, on Wednesday we would have spaghetti with leftover meatballs and sauce for an easy weeknight meal.

Today, over 50 years later I still love a Spaghetti and Meatball dinner.  At first it was a struggle to make my meatballs gluten free.  I had a foolproof recipe my entire adult life and thought that I could just swap out the breadcrumbs.  The result was a mushy mess.  So I had to reinvent my Italian meatballs to a new and improved gluten free version.

If your gluten free meatballs are too mushy and fall apart in the sauce, try this recipe.  You will have perfect meatballs every time and no one will know they are gluten free!  I made a small batch for the two of us but you can easily double or triple the recipe.

4 Servings

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Whisk together the egg and the Italian seasoning.

Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce, the ground beef and sausage followed by the breadcrumbs, potato flakes and rolled oats.  Mix thoroughly (use your hands).

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with cooking spray.  Form 9 meatballs and arrange them on the baking sheet, leaving space in between.  Broil on high for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning once.  Remove from the oven and let them rest at room temperature while you make the sauce.  This will allow the meatballs to set up and hold together.

Heat the marinara sauce in a deep skillet or braising pan.  Add the meatballs to the sauce 15-20 minutes before serving.  Keep warm but do not allow the sauce to come to a boil.

Serve with your favorite gluten free pasta and grated cheese.

Notes ♪♫ With so many brands of gluten free pasta, you have more than a few options to choose from.  I used Garofalo gluten free spaghetti in this recipe.  Some of my other favorite brands are Barilla and Bionaturae.

 

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