Looks like I’ve been on a real soup kick lately. I hope you don’t mind… it’s this time of year, I guess. Plus, it’s been crazy cloudy and rainy and foggy around here these past few weeks — the kind of weather that totally calls for soup!
And you know what I just realized? That I’d never, ever shared a recipe for Italian Wedding Soup with you. Strange, considering that this would be, bar none, my ultimate favorite soup in the whole wide world. In case you’re not familiar with it (like seriously, you HAVE to remedy that if that’s the case) Italian Wedding Soup is a classic American soup that’s made with adorable mini meatballs filled with Parmesan cheese, cooked in a tasty chicken broth with a generous amount of miniature pasta bits and loads of fresh greens, usually spinach.
Now, why the name Wedding Soup? I have no idea, and frankly, never really had the curiosity to research it in depth, but apparently, it would have something to do with the union, or marriage, of the flavors of the broth and the greens. At that rate, I think that just about any dish should be called “wedding” something… but hey, maybe that’s just me!
Although some people will serve their Italian Wedding Soup with “regular” sized meatballs, I personally think that the mini meatballs, along with the mini bits of pasta, are what really make the soup so much fun to eat. Sadly, though, they would also be the very reason why I don’t make it all that often: I have absolutely NO patience for rolling all the tiny little things.
Still, they are very well worth the effort, trust me; and once they are out of the way, the rest is just a piece of cake.
And you’ll forget all about the hard work the instant that spoon hits your lips, I swear!
Alright, so let’s get this meatball making out of the way, shall we? Simply combine the ground beef, ground pork, minced shallots and garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, egg, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl and then mix delicately with your hands until all is well combined.
Here’s a tip for ya: if you’re like me and don’t care much for making meatballs, double or triple that meat mixture recipe and make tons of little meatballs at once, then throw them in the freezer so you can make Italian Wedding Soup in just minutes the next time the craving strikes!
Form the meat mixture into miniature meatballs, using about half a teaspoon of meat per meatball, and then place them onto a baking sheet.
A single recipe will yield around 80 to 90 mini meatballs, and will test your patience for the best part of say, 10 to 15 minutes? Depending on how fast you roll, how perfect you want those meatballs to be and how often you feel the need to wash your hands between meatballs (as you probably know, I can’t stand to have my hands dirty, so I need to wash them all the time when doing these kinds of things…)
If you chose to double or triple the meatball recipe, you can place the meatballs in the freezer after you’ve laid them on the cookie sheet and once they are completely frozen, transfer them into a zippable freezer bag. This will prevent them from sticking together and you’ll be able to cook as little or as many as you want at a time.
And now to make the soup! Combine the chicken broth and water in a large stockpot and bring that to a roaring boil. Then, delicately add the meatballs to the broth, a few at a time.
If you’re using frozen meatballs, no need to thaw them first. Add them straight from the freezer; they’ll have plenty of time to cook all the way through, don’t worry about it. And as an added bonus, you won’t even need to be that delicate when you add them to that broth!
Let that boil for about 5 minutes, until the meatballs turn completely opaque and start to float to the surface.
You might want to stir delicately from time to time just to make sure that the meatballs don’t stick together…
Next, add the Acini di Pepe and continue cooking on a slow boil until the pasta is cooked to your liking, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Note that if you couldn’t find Acini di Pepe, any other variety of small soup pasta would work just as well. You could also use Israeli Couscous, although it may take a tiny bit longer than most pasta to cook all the way through.
Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, stir in the chopped spinach…
Kill the heat and let the soup rest until the spinach is completely wilted, about 2 minutes…
And there you have it. Serve your Italian Wedding Soup piping hot, sprinkled with a little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
All that hard work is about to pay off and I’m sure you’ll agree that it was very well worth it — this is definitely one successful marriage!
- 225g (8oz) lean ground beef
- 225g (8oz) lean ground pork
- 2 dry shallots, minced (or use a small onion)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (40g | 1.4oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp salt (I use Himalayan salt)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 8 cups (1.92l) chicken broth
- 4 cups (960ml) water
- 1-1/4 cups (225g | 8oz) Acini de Pepe (or other small pasta)
- 225g (8oz) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Start by making the meatballs: combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix delicately with your hands until well combined. Form into miniature meatballs, using about half a teaspoon of meat mixture per meatball, and place them onto a baking sheet. You should be getting around 80-90 meatballs.
- Now to make the soup: combine the chicken broth and water in a large pot and bring to a roaring boil. Delicately add the meatballs to the broth and boil for about 5 minutes, until the meatballs turn completely opaque and float to the surface.
- Add the pasta and continue cooking on a slow boil until the pasta is cooked to your liking, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach, kill the heat and let the soup rest until the spinach is completely wilted.
- Serve piping hot, sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.