Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian is an absolute delight! While the recipes range from simple to more complex, and casual to dressy, all of the dishes are holiday and party special!
A big thanks to Knopf Publishing for giving me permission to share the recipe for Wedding Soup with you!
My review with my pics and thoughts on the dishes I’ve tried is below the recipe.
Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, photographs by Steve Giralt (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.)
I am still not 100 percent certain how this soup got its name, but I’ve narrowed the pos- sibilities down to two passed-down explanations. One is that there is a marriage between all the vegetables and the meatballs. The other is that nutritional reinforcements are needed by the bride and groom, hence the addition of meat to a vegetable soup that is served at the meal before the wedding night. The latter might have more credence, since an alternative name for this soup in Italian is zuppa di rinforzamento. In any case, this festive vegetable soup with little meatballs can be a whole meal by itself. It also works very well as a holiday antipasto course, to be followed by a roast. As with a wedding, it takes a lot of preparation to get this recipe together, but it can be done a day or two in advance and reheated when your guests come. When you reheat the soup, always bring it back to a boil, to give it that just-cooked flavor.
Serves 10 to 12
2 pounds veal bones
2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
2 pounds chicken wings, backs, or necks, or a combination
2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound carrots, trimmed but left whole 4 stalks celery, halved crosswise
2 medium onions, halved
1 piece rind from a wedge of Grana Padano left from grating
½ tablespoon black peppercorns
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley 3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 large bunch spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 10 cups loosely packed leaves)
1 cup orzo or other small pasta (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
1 pound ground turkey 8 ounces ground pork
1 cup fine dried bread crumbs
½ cup grated Grana Padano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley 1 large egg, beaten
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Grated Grana Padano, for serving
For the soup, in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the veal bones, short ribs, chicken parts, leeks, carrots, celery, onions, cheese rind, peppercorns, parsley, tomato paste, salt, and 6 quarts water. Cover, heat, and simmer for 2 hours, occasionally skimming and discarding the scum and foam that rise to the surface. Uncover, and simmer until reduced by about half, about 1 hour more.
Drain the solids, and return the broth to a cleaned pot. Shred any meat from the short ribs and chicken parts, discarding the fat and bone, and reserve. Cut the carrots into ½-inch pieces, and reserve.
For the meatballs, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, pork, bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, egg, and salt. Mix well with your hands. Roll into 1-inch meatballs, and add to the boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then transfer with a spider or slotted spoon to the stock.
Return the soup to a simmer. Add the reserved shredded meats, the reserved carrots, and the spinach. Simmer until the spinach is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, adding the orzo in the last 7 or 8 minutes if desired. Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of grated cheese.
My review of the book…
Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian
by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
Excellent book. Everything we’ve tried has been delicious. There’s a range of wonderfully simple to very complex recipes. They’re all holiday or party special. Totally recommend!
1) Peach Almond Cake – p 343. Beautiful, filled with almond flavor, and not overly sweet. I brought this to book club and everyone adored it. And it’s easy!
2) Crispy Shrimp – p 90. This is fantastic fried shrimp. I made it once just as instructed, and then a second time I doubled the pepperoncini and used beer instead of the club soda to watch a little soccer. They disappeared both ways.
3) Bruschetta with Prosciutto and Figs – p 61. Pretty, yummy, and fast to pull together.
4) Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic Pesto – p 211. Delicious and fabulously fragrant! Roasted garlic, anchovies, walnuts, cheese, herbs, and olive oil.
5-6) Wedding Soup – p 138. Turkey and pork meatballs, with spinach, carrots, and orzo in a short rib, chicken, and bone stock with a grating of grana padana (hard grating cheese) and a drizzle of olive oil to finish. This soup is amazing. You need to pull out your biggest stock pot or Dutch oven to fit 6 pounds of meat and bones, a ton of vegetables, and 6 quarts of water. She tells you that you can do some steps ahead of time, but it’s only 3 ½ hours start to finish, and the majority of that is just simmering time. This was the only recipe where I needed to make a substitution. I didn’t have veal bones, nor did my grocer, so I used beef bones.
7-11) Pear and Pecorino Ravioli with Cacio e Pepe Sauce – p 232. This is wonderful ravioli! The pear is a background flavor with the pecorino front and center. I make little notes to myself before starting recipes. I thought I’d include them in case my sketches of the ravioli plan of action could be of help to anyone else.
12-13) Eggplant Parmigiana Stacks – p 165. I’m a fan. These are easier, lighter, and cuter than traditional eggplant Parmigiana. There’s no egg in the dredging step.
14) Carrot and Orange Salad – p 106. Speedy, sunshiny side. I love the contrast of the sweet carrots and oranges against the salty olives.
15) Salad of Warm Greens with Bacon and Mushrooms – p 107. Quick crowd pleaser.
16) Maremma Style Steak – p 309. I like the family-style presentation of the one giant steak. I was really surprised by how much the salty rosemary oil flavor permeated the meat. The kids loved it!
Some others I have flagged to try: Stuffed Mushrooms – p 29 * Stuffed Artichokes – p 32 * Baked Goat Cheese, Fava, and Artichoke Dip – p 40 * Stewed Savory Peppers – p 46 * Spinach Flan with Fresh Tomato Coulis – p 54 * Pizza Rolls with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage OR Ricotta and Leeks – p 72 * Swordfish Skewers Glazed with Sweet and Sour Sauce – p 87 * Spicy Stuffed Clams – p 93 * Lamb Meatballs with Lemon Sauce – p 97 * Asparagus and Leeks in Lemon Vinaigrette – p 104 * Panzanella with Shrimp and Fennel – p 111 * Leek, Walnut, and Gorgonzola Salad – p 115 * Grilled Apple and Radicchio Salad with Gorgonzola – p 120 * Lobster Salad – p 123 * Chicken and Zucchini Salad with Horseradish Dressing – p 130 * Butternut Squash Soup – p 142 * Asparagus Gratin – p 154 * Lentils with Butternut Squash – p 157 * Skillet Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Sauce – p 159 * Skillet Broccoli with Creamy Garlic Sauce – p 159 * Grilled Corn, Figs, and Portobellos – p 162 * Skillet Peppers and Potatoes – p 180 * Spicy Potato Salad with Bacon – p 182 * Risotto with Mushrooms – p 198 * Ziti with Kale Peso and Crispy Bacon – p 214 * Rigatoni with Italian American Meat Sauce – p 219 * Baked Stuffed Shells – p 221 * Lemony Shrimp over Zucchini – p 244 * Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate – p 279 * Turkey Breast with Apricots – p 283 * Beef and Potato Goulash – p 311 * Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Vegetables, and Porcini Sauce – p 318 * Berry Tiramisu – p 349 * There are cocktails in it, too. I didn’t really browse those yet.
I’ll update this as I play in the book more.
* I received a galley copy to explore and share my thoughts. I loved it, and bought a completed copy.