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Italian Wedding Soup with Venison Meatballs

This wild game take on the classic Italian Wedding Soup is a great way to use the ground venison sitting in your freezer from this past season. With homemade venison meatballs, vegetables and acini de pepe pasta, this soup is warm and comforting, which makes it great during these colder months. The recipe starts by making the delicious mini venison meatballs, that are good enough to eat without the rest of the soup. While they bake in the oven, you will sauté vegetables, create a rich broth and cook the pasta right in the same pot. To finish it off, you’ll add the meatballs into the soup along with chopped escarole, and top it off with Parmesan cheese to serve. When your family is in the mood for a hearty and filling soup, this Italian wedding soup with venison meatballs is the best choice!  

For the Venison Meatballs: 

1 pound Ground Venison  

1/2 cup Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs (or Panko) 

⅓  cup Parmesan Cheese, plus more for serving 

3 tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley  

2 tablespoons Milk 

1 large Egg, Beaten 

2 teaspoons Minced Garlic (2 Cloves) 

2 teaspoons Dried Minced Onions 

1 teaspoon Salt  

½ teaspoon Black Pepper  

For the Soup: 

1 tablespoon Olive Oil 

1 Yellow Onion, Finely Diced 

3 Whole Carrots, Diced 

2 Stalks Celery, Diced 

8 cups Chicken Stock *See Note 

½ cup Dry White Wine (Optional) 

1 cup Acini Di Pepe 

3 cups Cored and Chopped Escarole (or 3 cups Spinach) 

Salt and Pepper, To Taste  

Recipe Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Make the meatballs: Place the venison, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, milk, beaten egg, garlic, minced onions, parsley, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Combine gently to avoid overmixing. Using a teaspoon, shape 1 to 1 ¼ inch meatballs and place them onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes; the meatballs should be lightly browned and cooked through.  
  3. Make the soup: While the meatballs are in the oven, heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add in onions, carrots and celery and saute for 5-6 minutes, or until softened.  
  4. Add in wine and chicken stock and bring the pot to a boil. 
  5. Once boiling add in pasta and cook for 6-7 minutes until the pasta is tender.  
  6. Add the meatballs to the soup, then stir in escarole and cook for about 1 minute, or until wilted. Taste the soup and add any salt and pepper if desired.  
  7. Serve warm, with Parmesan cheese for topping. 

Yield: 6-8 servings  

Note: If you don’t plan to eat the soup in one day,  add an additional 2 cups of chicken stock. The pasta will slowly absorb the broth.  

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