• For the meatballs:
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground chicken
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian sausage seasoning blend (recommended: Savory Spice Shop)
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion (about 1/4 large yellow onion)
  • 2/3 cup GF brown rice bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving, if desired
  • 3 tablespoons fat free evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the soup:
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 3/4 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 quarts unsalted chicken stock (recommended: Kitchen Basics)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup small GF pasta such as annelini or stars
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

I have to be honest. I’m Italian and been to quite a few weddings and I have never had this soup served to me. Too bad – it’s really good (and better than some of the food I’ve had at weddings)! However, it’s not too easy on the waist and certainly not gluten free, so I recreated Ina Garten’s version (which I like because she uses chicken meatballs) and I’m able to eat it without worrying about my waist or getting any gluten. In fact, maybe I’ll have it served when Steve and I get married… :)

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place all the ingredients, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a small ice cream scoop, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray. You should have about 40 meatballs. (They don’t have to be perfectly round.) Spray meatballs and  bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, spray a stock pot and set over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, season with salt and pepper and saute until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Add salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with a LITTLE extra grated Parmesan (try it first – you may be fine without it).

Here’s the skinny:

First, I used sausage seasoning, lean meat and onion juice to recreate sausage flavors without the fat and calories. I only used a small amount of sausage seasoning because I wanted there to be a note of sausage without overpowering the meatball.

Instead of bread crumbs, I made the dish gluten free by using brown rice bread crumbs. I use brown rice because of it’s complex carb properties. I use complex carbs wherever I can to make the dishes even healthier.

To save more fat and calories, I cut the cheese in half and it still tastes great. Pecorino and Parmesan are both strong cheeses and a little bit goes a long way. I also used fat free evaporated milk instead of whole milk to cut out even more fat and calories.

Instead of an egg, I used egg substitute. You lose the fat and cholesterol of the egg yolk but get the binding properties of the egg white.

Since you are missing a lot of fat in the meatball, I spray it with cooking spray before cooking to help it get a little brown.

For the soup, I used cooking spray again. You don’t need all that oil in order to saute, plus you get more flavor out of your ingredients when you use less oil.

To cut down on sodium, I use an unsalted stock. You can always add more later if you want.

Lastly, to make the dish gluten free, I used a gluten free pasta. Sometimes you can tell you are eating gluten free pasta, but in this soup, there is really no way you can tell.