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Originally published Friday, March 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Orzo Soup with Italian Meatballs

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Serves 6 to 8

Note: If you decide to substitute store-bought meatballs for homemade, you may want to resize them (packaged ones tend to be large). Cut the large meatballs in half and reroll them into a ball that is better suited for a soup bowl.

For the soup:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, minced

11½ pounds wild mushrooms, sliced

1 rib celery, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups beef or chicken stock

Uncooked Italian meatballs (see recipe below; see Note)

1 cup uncooked orzo

¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper

For the meatballs:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces lean ground beef

8 ounces lean ground veal

8 ounces regular or lean ground pork

1 egg

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

2 tsp. salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the meatballs, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until starting to soften, about two minutes. Add garlic and sauté until onion is softened, about two minutes. Let cool for five minutes.

2. In large bowl, using your hands, combine onion mixture, beef, veal, pork, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, salt, basil, oregano and pepper. To taste for seasoning, heat a small skillet over medium heat and fry a spoon-sized patty until no longer pink. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Roll into small meatballs about 1½ inches in diameter.

3. To make the soup, heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until starting to soften, about two minutes. Add mushrooms, celery, salt, basil and oregano; sauté until vegetables begin to soften and mushrooms have released their liquid, about five minutes.

4. Add stock and bring to boil. Carefully add meatballs and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and bring soup to a boil. Stir in orzo and boil until tender, about eight minutes.

5. Add parsley, lemon juice, cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

6. Ladle into heated bowls and pass additional cheese at the table.

From “300 Sensational Soups,” by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds.

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