Italian wedding soup is a beloved dish that has a fascinating history rooted in Italian culinary traditions. This hearty soup, known for its combination of savory meatballs, vegetables, and pasta, has been enjoyed by generations of Italians and has become popular worldwide. Let's dive into the origins and evolution of this delicious soup.
Italian wedding soup, or Minestra Maritata in Italian, does not actually have anything to do with weddings. The name wedding soup is believed to come from the Italian phrase minestra di verdure e carne maritata, which translates to the married soup. The term maritata refers to the perfect marriage of flavors between the meat and vegetables in the soup.
Nevertheless, the origins of Italian wedding soup can be traced back to the region of Naples, Italy. It is believed to have been created during the 12th century. The soup was traditionally served at wedding feasts, hence the name. It was considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity for the newlyweds.
The classic ingredients of Italian wedding soup include meatballs made from a combination of ground beef, ground pork, or ground veal, along with breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and various herbs and spices. The meatballs are usually a half tablespoon in size, making them easy to eat in the soup. The soup also typically includes leafy greens such as escarole or spinach, sliced vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery, and small pasta shapes such as orzo or acini di pepe.
Over time, Italian wedding soup has evolved, and variations can be found throughout Italy and even in other parts of the world. Some regional variations may use different types of greens, such as kale or Swiss chard, while others may add additional ingredients like beans or rice. The soup has become a comforting and nourishing dish that is enjoyed not only at weddings but also as a comforting meal during colder months.
In recent years, Italian wedding soup has gained popularity globally and can be found on menus in Italian restaurants worldwide. The rich history and delicious flavors continue to make it a beloved dish for people of all backgrounds. Whether enjoyed at a wedding or as a comforting meal at home, Italian wedding soup remains a testament to the enduring traditions and culinary heritage of Italy.
EQUIPMENT:5 or 6-quart Stockpot, 1.5-quart mixing bowl
PREPARATION: About 2 hours – makes 10 to 12 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (not the green stuff)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion sliced.
- 2 medium carrots cut into strips.
- 2 stalks of celery cut on a bias.
- 4 cloves garlic minced.
- ½ cup Chardonnay wine
- 12 cups of chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons chicken base
- 1 head escarole chopped, about 5 ounces of whole baby spinach.
- 40 uncooked meatballs ½ tablespoon size
- 1 cup dry Acini di Pepe or Ditalini pasta
- 2 whole eggs well beaten.
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
In the 5 or 6-quart stockpot sauté the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil and butter over medium heat 275ᵒF until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes stir occasionally. Do not allow the vegetable to brown or burn. Stir as needed.
Increase the heat to medium-high 375ᵒF. Add the Chardonnay wine and allow the alcohol to cook off before adding the chicken stock and chicken base. About 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat. Add the escarole or spinach and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the pasta and stir. Add the uncooked meatballs – a few at a time. Continue to cook until the meatballs are cooked through, stir as needed. Simmer until pasta is cooked al dente. About 10 to 12 minutes.
In a small mixing bowl whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. With a wooden spoon stirring the soup in a circle, gradually drizzle in the egg-cheese mixture to form thin strands of egg and cheese.
TO SERVE: Spoon into soup bowls and top with remaining parmesan cheese. Serve with toasted garlic bread.