Wedding soup, known as "minestra maritata" in Italian, is a classic dish rooted in Southern Italian cuisine. Contrary to popular belief, the name doesn't refer to weddings but to the "marriage" of flavors in the soup. This hearty dish combines savory meatballs, fresh vegetables, and rich broth to create a meal that's both comforting and nutritious.

wedding soup

Ingredients You'll Need

Essential Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup small pasta (e.g., acini di pepe or orzo)
  • 4 cups fresh spinach or escarole, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, diced

Optional Enhancements for Customization:

  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese for extra flavor
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes for a hint of heat
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms for added earthiness
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken for extra protein

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

1. Prepare the Meatballs

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, minced garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Roll the mixture into small, bite-sized meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.

2. Cook the Meatballs

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, cooking until browned on all sides (approximately 5-7 minutes per batch). Remove the meatballs from the pot and set aside.

3. Prepare the Broth

In the same pot, add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

4. Cook the Pasta

Add the small pasta to the simmering broth and cook until al dente, following the package instructions (usually around 7-10 minutes).

5. Add the Meatballs and Greens

Return the browned meatballs to the pot along with the chopped spinach or escarole. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the greens are wilted and the meatballs are cooked through.

Serving Suggestions

Ladle the wedding soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty Italian bread on the side for a complete meal. A light drizzle of olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper can also enhance the presentation and flavor.

Customization Options

  • Extra Veggies: Feel free to add more vegetables like zucchini, peas, or bell peppers to boost the nutritional value.
  • Different Pasta: Experiment with various types of small pasta like ditalini, anellini, or even small shells.
  • Alternative Proteins: Substitute ground turkey or chicken for the meatballs, or add cooked shredded chicken for a leaner option.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze the soup in individual portions for up to 3 months. When reheating, warm the soup on the stove over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Add a splash of extra broth if the soup has thickened.

Final Thoughts

Making your own wedding soup is a rewarding experience that allows you to bring a piece of Italian tradition into your home. With its rich flavors and comforting ingredients, it's sure to become a favorite.

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