Italian Wedding Soup Is Not About Italian Weddings!
The term “Italian Wedding” soup comes from the Italian phrase “minestra maritata”, which means “married soup”. This is in reference to the delicious combination of flavours from the fresh greens, the delicious broth and the meatballs. Although called Italian, it is believed that this soup actually originated in Spain, and was later brought to Naples. It is considered to be a “peasant” dish as it was most likely made with left over meats made into meat balls, left over vegetables and broth. This charming soup was brought to the United States by the Neapolitans and was embraced and tweaked into a lighter, westernized version that was more of a soup and less of a stew. You will find this staple Italian soup on most Italian restaurant menus in the United States. It’s super easy to make, deliciously hearty and healthy!
· 8 oz lean ground beef
· 8 oz ground pork
· 1/2 cup fresh hearty white bread crumbs*
· 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
· 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
· 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan
· 1 large egg
· Salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1 Tbsp olive oil
· 1 Tbsp olive oil
· 1 1/4 cups 1/4-inch diced carrots
· 1 1/4 cups diced yellow onion
· 3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery
· 4 cloves garlic , minced (1 1/2 Tbsp)
· 5 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
· 1 cup dry acini de pepe or orzo pasta**
· 6 oz fresh spinach , chopped
· Finely shredded parmesan , for serving
For the meatballs:
Add beef and pork to a large mixing bowl. Add in bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, parmesan, egg, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Gently toss and break up mixture with hands to evenly coat and distribute. Shape mixture into very small meatballs, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch and transfer to a large plate.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook until browned, turning occasionally (to brown on 2 or 3 sides), about 4 minutes total. Transfer meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels while leaving oil in skillet. Repeat process with remaining meatballs (note that meatballs won't be cooked through at this point, they'll continue to cook through in the soup).
For the soup:
While meatballs are browning, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions and celery and saute until veggies have softened about 6 - 8 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Pour in chicken broth, season soup with salt and pepper to taste and bring mixture to a boil. Add in pasta and meatballs, reduce heat to light boil (about medium or medium-low). Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender and meatballs have cooked through, about 10 minutes, while adding in spinach during the last minute of cooking. Serve warm, sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese.
A nice finish to the soup is chopped up crusty bread added on top. Yummy!!