When is a wedding soup not for a wedding? When English-speakers mis-translate Italian! In the United States, wedding soup is a popular Italian dish, but it really has nothing to do with getting married. The Italian name for the soup, minestra maritata, literally means “married soup,” but refers to the combination of ingredients, not to matrimony.
Typically, the Italian version of this soup (which is lighter than the traditional Spanish version) consists of green vegetables (often cabbage, escarole, endive, kale, spinach, or lettuce) along with meat (usually meatballs, but sometimes sausage or beef or chicken) in a chicken broth. Other ingredients may also be included, such as pasta or lentils.
Below is an easy, basic Italian wedding soup recipe. But remember: This basic recipe can easily be altered. Just think in terms of substitutions. For example, you could substitute spinach for the cabbage, or Italian sausage for the beef, or lentils for the pasta. Etc.
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs. total
1 large yellow onion
29 oz. low sodium chicken broth
6 stalks celery, chopped
9 carrots, sliced
1 sweet potato, cubed
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
12 oz. tomato paste
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
16 oz. pastina, acini di pepe pasta, or other small pasta
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place the chicken in a large stock pot. Add the whole onion and the broth. Add water until the chicken is submerged. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Strongly simmer until chicken meat is falling off the bones.
2. Remove the pot from the stove and carefully remove the chicken with a skimmer or tongs. Place on a platter and allow to cool until you can comfortably touch the meat. Remove the meat from the bones and either chop it into bite-sized pieces or tear into small pieces using two forks. Discard the bones and other chicken pieces, or save to make stock later.
3. Remove the onion from the pot and chop. Place the chicken meat and the chopped onion back in the pot. Place the celery, carrots, sweet potato, and cabbage in the pot. Add the tomato paste and stir.
4. In a mixing bowl, stir together the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, and Romano. Shape into balls the size of walnuts in the shell. Add to the pot.
5. Cook the soup on medium high, simmering until all vegetables are tender, about 60 minutes. Reduce heat to keep the soup warm.
6. Fill a pot with water and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until just cooked. Drain.
7. Spoon the pasta into bowls and cover with the soup. Place some Parmesan cheese over each serving.
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