Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup (4 of 6).jpg

Italian Wedding Soup was first introduced to me at my Italian in-laws home almost 30 years ago and I have been making it ever since! I have always been a huge lover of soup of any kind.  It’s filling, delicious and hits the spot in the dead of winter on a very cold day; not only does it take the chill out of your body it also soothes the soul.

I have often wondered why this delicious soup was called Italian Wedding Soup.  My husband tells me that as long as he can remember it was served at weddings right after the antipasto (appetizer) course when he was young boy but in recent years soups have seemed to be removed from the typical Italian wedding menu which usually consists of at least five to six or more courses and you can bet that a pasta dish will be served right after the antipasto dish. I can only assume serving a rich wedding soup loaded with pastina would be overkill on pasta since it is so filling.

 I looked for answers as to why it was so popular and the best response was ‘it’s delicious, so I turned to my friend Google to do some research and found out that it is derived from the Italian term ‘'minestra maritata’  meaning Wedding Soup or Married Soup but really has nothing to do with a wedding but it is the delicate marriage of delicious vegetables, meat and pasta that creates this unique, wonderful and delicious soup. I also found that since it is so filling and full of nutrients that it helped nourish the bride and groom to give them strength for their wedding night! HUM ~ Soup anyone? {smile}

 We use a triple mix of lean ground beef, ground veal and pork in all our meat ball recipes as I find that the combination of meat flavours heightens the taste of the meat ball as well as enhancing the taste of the broth.  You can use only one type of meat or try different meats all together if you prefer. Chicken meat balls are gaining popularity, so why not try out the recipe using 1 pound of ground chicken. Since Italian Wedding Soup is usually made with clear chicken broth or stock, change it around a bit and try making chicken meat balls with a low sodium beef stock instead. Depending on the time that I have in the kitchen I will either rinse the pastina with hot water or partially cook it to remove all the starch from the pasta and then slowly stir it into the soup.  I find that the starch does absolutely nothing to enhance the flavour of the soup and only clouds the rich broth.

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Italian Wedding Soup
A delicious blend of meatballs, tiny pasta and veggies that soothes the soul.
  • 1/3 lb Lean ground beef
  • 1/3 lb Lean ground veal
  • 1/3 lb Lean ground pork
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Medium minced onion
  • 1 to 2 Minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup Finely chopped parsley
  • 1 large Egg
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 to 3 litres Home-made Chicken stock or Store bought (low sodium)
  • 4 oz frozen or ½ bag fresh coarsley chopped spinach or substitute with fresh endive or escarole
  • 8 to 10 ounces fine pastina such as acini de pepe, orzo, tubettini, stelline or ditalini regati
  • Optional:
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Finely chopped carrots
1. Combine ground beef, veal and pork.2. Add all the ingredients except for the chicken stock, spinach and pasta, mixing well. 3. Once the mixture is well combined start by grabbing about a grape sized ball of mixture; you may want to keep a warm bowl of water next to you and just wet your finger tips so that rolling the balls is easier.4. Once you’ve rolled all your perfect little mini meatballs they’re ready for frying. 5. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat, when the temperature is around 350F (the oil will start to fizz and crackle so you know the oil is ready).6. Place the meat balls into the hot oil and fry on all sides; you can gently shake the frying pan and the meatballs will bounce around the pan. 7. Drain and cool on paper towel or a drain basket.8. Heat chicken stock to a rolling boil and then reduce heat and simmer while the meatballs are frying. Add your frozen or fresh coarsely chopped spinach and drained meatball to the stock bring back your stock to a gentle simmer. 9. Simmer for about 1 hour allowing for the flavours to develop.10. Rinse the starch off the pastina or blanch slightly to remove all the starch; this will prevent the broth from becoming cloudy.11. Add pastina to stock and simmer until al dente.12. Enjoy!!
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