The popular Italian Wedding Soup is really a bit of a misnomer. It not something you’ll find at an Italian wedding, but instead refers to minestra maritata or ‘married soup.’ – that is, the combining of meat and fresh greens in a soup. Whatever its origins, the Italian Wedding soup is a staple in Italian-American restaurants, just for the reason that meats and green vegetables go so well together.
Do some searching and read some cookbooks, and you’ll find that there is no one master version of the Italian Wedding Soup. My take on the recipe uses a tomato-chicken broth base with plenty of root vegetables, Kale and Orzo. And who can’t forget the meatballs. These little guys bring the whole soup together. Instead of putting the raw meatballs in the pot and letting the soup cook them, I opt to bake them in the oven while the soup is simmering and add a few to the bowl when the soup is served. They’ll stay firm and not turn to mush.
Italian Wedding Soup
- 1 small onion, grated
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces ground pork
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium chopped onion
- 2-3 chopped carrots
- 2 stalks chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup Orzo
- 2 cups chopped kale (or fresh spinach or chard)
For the meatballs: Stir together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cheese and meat and mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done.
For the Soup: Heat oil in large pot, add vegetables and saute until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and cook thirty seconds. Add stock and tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until soup comes to a boil. Add orzo and cook another 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in Kale and cook until wilted. If soup looks too thick for your tastes, add a little extra stock or water. Taste and adjust seasonings.
To serve, place meatballs in soup bowl and pour soup over to warm them.