Heading towards those New Year Resolutions with Lighter Fare

For Christmas, Kurt and I decided to invest in a good elliptical machine to get in shape in 2013.  My friend Katherine and her husband Jason run (well, at least Jason runs, Katherine is about to have their first child in January); they thoroughly researched machines so we bought what they bought– a Sole e35.  It came as an early gift in mid-December.  I’ve used it once.  Kurt has been more consistent, but as the holidays approached, he, too, slowed down.  Ken has been the sole (no pun intended) enthusiast, working out on the elliptical several days a week.

New Year’s Eve marks the end of all our holiday bounty.  Whatever treats we have left will just go into deep freeze for when Ken has his friends over– they, at least, run around outside!  Since we’ve had several heavy meals in a row (Christmas, charcuterie picnic and fondue), I thought it would be wise to begin moving our meals towards lighter fare.  I still have that leftover ground turkey, so I’m going to make Italian wedding soup for lunch.  High on the healthy scale– turkey meatballs, carrots, spinach and a cupful of tiny pasta (I’ll use acini de pepe).  The soup and leftover baguette from the fondue will be a good start towards a lighter 2013.

Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

for the turkey meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 TB grated Parmesan cheese (or more if you want)
  • 1 slice white bread, crust removed
  • milk to wet the bread (I don’t measure, but probably 1-2 TB)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 c very finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed

for the soup:

  • 1 c small dice carrots (1/4 inch)
  • 1/2 lb (8 oz) baby spinach leaves, 1/4 inch julienned (I’ve also left them whole, but Ken likes them chopped up)
  • 1 c small pasta (I use acini de pepe, but am thinking of trying the new “mini” pastas)
  • 3 qts (12 c) of chicken stock (Pacific organic is my favorite when I don’t have my own)

Prepare the bread by placing it in a small bowl and pouring a little milk over the slice to moisten.  Let sit a few minutes, then mash with your fingers or a fork.

Make sure the bread is thoroughly mashed up.

Make sure the bread is thoroughly mashed up.

Place the bread and remaining meatball ingredients (turkey, parm, onion, garlic, egg, parsley, salt and pepper) into a mixing bowl,

If the bread is dripping, squeeze some of the liquid out before adding to the other ingredients.

If the bread is dripping, squeeze some of the liquid out before adding to the other ingredients.

then mix lightly but thoroughly with a fork, making sure all ingredients are well distributed.  At this point, I microwave a bit of the meat to check the seasonings, adjusting as needed.

Don't over mix or mash the meat too much-- that makes the meatballs very dense.

Don’t over mix or mash the meat too much– that makes the meatballs very dense.

Form small meatballs– 3/4 to 1 inch– and place on a tray or plate.

Don't forget to cook a bit of the meat to taste test before you make all those meatballs!

Don’t forget to cook a bit of the meat to taste test before you make all those meatballs!

Prep the carrots and spinach if you haven’t already done so.

I use baby spinach which I slice, but you can leave the leaves whole, too.

I use baby spinach which I slice, but you can leave the leaves whole, too.

Heat a large pot over medium heat and coat the bottom with some olive oil.  Toss in the carrots and let them soften slightly (do not brown).

Soften slightly (mostly to ensure you don't have uncooked carrots in the finished product)

Soften slightly (mostly to ensure you don’t have uncooked carrots in the finished product)

Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  When simmering, add the turkey meatballs, by dropping gently by hand into the simmering broth.

Keep your fingers close to the surface and let the meatballs roll off your fingertips-- you'll minimize the hot liquid splashing on you this way!!

Keep your fingers close to the surface and let the meatballs roll off your fingertips– you’ll minimize the hot liquid splashing on you this way!!

Let the soup return to a simmer, then stir in whatever pasta you’re using– I have acini de pepe (it’s very small).

Make sure the liquid is at a good simmer before adding the pasta.

Make sure the liquid is at a good simmer before adding the pasta.

Then add the chopped spinach by the handfuls, and stir to make sure the leaves are all submerged.

Add by the handfuls, not all at once to maintain the simmer for the pasta.

Add by the handfuls, not all at once to maintain the simmer for the pasta.

Let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  (The pasta is so small, you actually have to ladle out some soup to try– another opportunity to taste test).

Soup is ready when spinach has cooked down, pasta is al dente

Soup is ready when spinach has cooked down, pasta is al dente

Serve with a good crusty bread.

The tiny pasta adds a great texture to this soup!  Ken LOVES it...

The tiny pasta adds a great texture to this soup! Ken LOVES it…

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4 Comments

Filed under Family, Food, Main Dishes

4 responses to “Heading towards those New Year Resolutions with Lighter Fare

  1. Sue M.

    Looks very yummy!

  2. It is so good…and healthy, too!

  3. Tilithia

    I’m interested in hearing and seeing how this “lighter fare” translates on the Mommies’ Night………

    • LOL! I thought for sure Jacki was going to make this comment! I’m just doing lighter for the fam. I don’t believe in total deprivation– once a month indulgence, woman!!

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