Love Italian Wedding Soup? This Risotto Is for You

Justin Chapple makes his recipe for Italian Wedding Risotto on this week’s episode of Mad Genius.

Italian wedding soup is already popular for being a warming, cozy, dish. But on this week's episode of Mad Genius, Food & Wine Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple combines it with another beloved classic, risotto, for a hearty meal that's the best of both worlds. Creamy arborio rice with bright green spinach stirred into it meets crispy, savory meatballs that have been browned under the broiler — a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of Parm and parsley, and some black pepper finish everything off. Believe it or not, the whole recipe takes just 45 minutes to make from start to finish, and if you're in the mood for wine, it just so happens to pair perfectly with an herbal, red-fruited Chianti Classico.

To make this recipe at home, read on for Justin's step-by-step method and follow along with the video above.

Make the Meatballs

For the meatballs, you'll need some finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped garlic cloves, a lightly beaten large egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, panko, ground pork, and a little bit of kosher salt and black pepper. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix them by hand — gently! you don't want to over-mix the meat — until everything is just combined. To form the meatballs, Justin grabs a cookie scoop to portion out the meat mixture. Ultimately, you should end up with 20 meatballs total.

Place the meatballs one inch apart on a broiler-safe baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and broil 'em until they're cooked through and browned, which should take about six to nine minutes. Set them aside while you make the risotto.

Combine the Broth and Water

Before you start cooking the rice, combine the lower-sodium chicken stock (or broth) with the water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium; then, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it sit.

Start the Risotto

Next, heat a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and unsalted butter in a large saucepan, and add the finely chopped yellow onion, finely chopped celery stalk, and the remaining finely chopped garlic. Stir often as they cook. Once everything has softened, add the uncooked arborio rice and stir constantly until it becomes translucent. Then pour in the dry white wine, stirring often, until it almost completely reduces — as Justin demonstrates in the video, when you drag a spoon through the rice mixture, you shouldn't see any liquid on the bottom of the pan.

At this point, start adding the warm stock mixture one cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting the liquid absorb between each addition, until the rice is al dente, which should take about 20 minutes.

Finish the Risotto

Once the rice is al dente, remove it from the heat (the risotto will thicken as it sits off the heat). Then, stir in the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. Stir in the baby spinach as well and let the warm rice cook it and wilt it down for about 30 seconds.

Italian Wedding Risotto
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen


To serve the risotto, divide it among bowls and tap the bottom of each bowl so the risotto settles in an even layer. Each bowl should get a few crispy meatballs; finish everything off with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a little more Parmigiano-Reggiano and black pepper. And then? Your Italian Wedding Risotto awaits.

"It is so delicious," Justin says after trying a few bites. "The risotto is so creamy and silky with a little nuttiness from the cheese. That meatball, it's like garlicky, it's crispy on the outside but still nice and tender on the inside. It has so much flavor because we used that ground pork."

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