Italian Wedding Soup

Recipe update from October 2007: I love this soup kitchen classic and I make it at least once a year during soup season. It’s winter and we have soup season! I don’t tinker much with this Rocco DiSpirito recipe other than to use what leafy greens are available in the market. It could be escarole, could be kale or it could be curly green lettuce…all good in Italian Wedding Soup.

The basis for any good soup is a good stock and that’s especially important for this soup. When I make a stock, I buy the carcasses (three) from a chicken (you can use one whole chicken) and place them in a pot with a carrot, onion and celery along with some salt (1 Tbsp) and enough water to cover the pot (12-14 cups). Bring to a boil, simmer for 90-120 minutes and allow to cool. Remove the vegetables and carcasses and place the stock in the fridge to chill. The next day the fat will have risen to the top and coagulate. Simply skim the fat and discard and now you’re left with a clear, flavourful stock.

I’ve been to many weddings (including Italian weddings) but I’ve never been served this soup. I usually see Italian Wedding Soup at a soup & sandwich counter.

For those not familiar with this soup, it’s a brothy soup with little bite-sized meatballs, lots of chopped pieces of greens and little pasta called Acini de Pepe (peppercorns).

When I’m out and I have to eat lunch on the go, I always see what the “soup of the day” is and then I’ll choose my sandwich pairing.

When I see Italian Wedding Soup as the “soup de jour”, I smile and order a ham & cheese, egg salad or Club House to accompany this earthy soup.

When I first made this soup, I used Rocco DiSpirito’s version and I was very pleased with the end result as it tasted like the soup at the sandwich counter.

The one glaring omission in his recipe was the absence of the Acini de Pepe. It can be found amongst the other pastas and if you cannot find it, substitute it with another fine, small pasta. Don’t overlook this little pasta, it’s half the soup! Add it to your broth along with the meatballs.

The only substitute I made was that I used kale instead of escarole and just remember to trim the stems of kale as they can be too earthy in flavour.

Finally, using just ground beef (omitting pork) is perfectly okay and the same good, comforting flavours will come out. Chalk this soup as an easy, comforting soup to try this winter.

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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20 Comments for “Italian Wedding Soup”

Παράλογον

says:

i thing italian people eating this soup the last night of the year. this soup for italians is Symbol of the luck, of “fotruna”…Myitalian friend said me…

L

says:

I never heard of this as being a wedding soup… perhaps it is what is called “Minestra maritata”, that is to say “married soup” :-)
What do you think of that? The Italian girl :-)

Laurie Constantino

says:

Now I know what to do with the kale in my refrigerator — thank you!

As for the origin of Italian Wedding Soup, this is what a food historian said (see http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04204/349727.stm):

“In looking more closely at Italian immigration, she has made a discovery that might startle some Western Pennsylvanians: Italian wedding soup is not only exclusive to this area, it is not Italian.
This emblematic food probably takes its name from a linguistic misunderstanding, she said. A Neapolitan concoction of broth with greens and meatballs was called, in translation, married flavors, she said. ‘It probably arrived in Naples with the Spanish,’ but died out: ‘There is no such thing as wedding soup in Italy.'”

So it sounds like minestra maritata is right.

There is a similar use of the “married” terminology in Greek. A dish made with fava (yellow split peas) combined with capers is called Fava Pantremeni or Married Fava. It’s really good, and I’ll post a recipe for it soon.

Thanks again for the good idea.

Ferdzy

says:

Yes, it’s soup season. I love me some good soup and that sounds great. Those slightly bitter greens need some rich meat to contrast. Perfect!

canarygirl

says:

This looks totally awesome, Peter! Soup season is heading in to town! It actually rained today…what I wouldn’t give for a nice bowl of this. YUM! :)

Valli

says:

I tried some Italian Wedding Soup at East Side Marios on the weekend on our way north. It is probably not the best on the planet but would intrigue me enough to make my own at home. Now I have a recipe. Thank you!

Anonymous

says:

I recently bought a case of Campbells’ Italian Wedding Soup because I love it. Yours looks much nicer than the canned stuff, I have to say!

K

Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita

says:

Well, the name of the soup is not Italian, that is true as your reader let you know, but..
the soup itself is traditional. We just don’t call it “wedding soup”. In our house it is just chicken soup (with little meatballs in it). This is how we make our chicken soup. I’ll have to do a post on it some day. It looks great BTW

says:

I grew up eating this soup but we never referred to it as “Italian wedding soup” and I have never been served this at a wedding. We just have it for special occasions. Your version looks very authentic and I’m ready to dig in.

says:

My grandmother used to make this every holiday – it was the first course. She called it “wedding soup” but then again we are from Western PA, where the article that Laurie linked to mentions (although I can’t get the link to work for me). However, she never put the little pasta in it, but made these ” soup nuts” out of flour and butter and fried them to put on top. Still trying to figure out where that came from!

Ashen

says:

Give me Stracciatella soup anyday, which is the only soup I ever remembered being served at Italian weddings. I havn’t really been to a wedding that it was served at since the late 80’s though. A shame really but it is not the most easy thing to make for a lot of guest. To be good the egg drop part needs to be done just before serving.