One of my favorite soups is called Italian Wedding Soup.
It is a good chicken broth base chicken soup which is really good for you if you
have a cold or feel a little problem in your lungs.
Spinach contains many nutrients that are good for your heart too.
So there are two good reasons to try this simple recipe.

We make it with the small pasta called orzo.
As you can see from some of the photos,
Italian Wedding Soup has a few different variations.
If you want to try the taste before making it one of these recipes
I have purchased Italian Wedding Soup in a can (premade)
when I wanted a quick warm nourishing soup.
"Ah, Italian wedding soup,
one of those lovable Old World dishes that comes complete with a story.
Serve a bowl,
fill your head with images
of poor but honest folks in colorful native dress,
dancing in circles to celebrate wedding joy
while somebody plays the accordion
and grandfathers smoking short, crooked cigars smile
and clap their hands.

Great story,
great image.
There's just one little problem:
It is not really true.
This hearty, warming soup is Italian all right,
but at least historically it has nothing to do with weddings.
With regional variations from Rome to Abbruzzi to Naples,
this peasant dish earned the Neapolitan name
"Minestra Maritata" or "married soup,"
because of any connection with weddings
but simply because it brings together meat and greens
in, well, a happy marriage.

But the old name stuck,
and over time
- more in Italian-American culture
than in the Old Country
- it became the custom to serve it at wedding feasts,
simply because the name prompted the tradition.
It's certainly not reserved for nuptials, though:
It's often served during the holidays,
on cold wintry days,
or just about any time you're in the mood for a hearty, healthy soup.

Here's a variation put together recently,
featuring quickly made polpette (Italian veal meatballs)
simmered in a little broth, which is then used as the base
for a quick soup with spinach (substituted for the more traditional escarole),
a little soup pasta and, in my version, streaks of egg-and-cheese scrambles
borrowed from the Roman egg-drop soup stracciatella.

It's easy to double or multiply the ingredients to serve a larger group;
if you prefer a vegetarian soup, it's easily modified:
Hold the meatballs and use vegetable broth, and you've got a hearty
(if "un-married") meatless rendition of stracciatella with greens."


Italian Wedding Soup Version 1

½ - 9 oz bag Fresh Express Spinach (tear spinach into pieces)
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1 Tbsp parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Mix well and form into tiny meat balls.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 350°F.
Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil and add spinach.
Cover and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the meatballs to the hot broth, bring to a simmer.
Stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

Tips and Suggestions
Optional for a spicy soup: Add cayenne powder to meatball mixture.

Italian Wedding Soup Version 2

* 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey or beef
* 2 eggs, beaten
* ¼ cup dried bread crumbs
* 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
* 3 tablespoons minced onion
* 12 cups chicken broth
* 2½ cups spinach - thinly sliced
* 1 cup orzo uncooked
* ½ cup diced carrots (optional)
1. In a medium bowl, combine the meat, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, basil and onion.
Shape mixture into ¾-inch balls and set aside.

2. In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling;
stir in the spinach, orzo, carrot and meatballs.
Return to boil; reduce heat to medium.
Cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente,
and meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. 8-12 serving

Italian Wedding Soup Version 3
Chef John Folse's Italian Wedding Soup

PREP TIME: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes
SERVES: 8-10
COMMENT: This soup is traditionally served at Italian weddings.
It is served with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Being from South Louisiana, Julie and I have taken Cajun license
and spiced up the meatballs to provide that explosion of flavors
found only in Cajun and Creole cooking.
Julie found the soup recipe from the Poole family in Rhode Island
and pirated the meatball recipe from my brother,
Chef John Folse's "Tender and Juicy Spaghetti and Meatballs"
to make this soup one of the best soups I have ever had. - Jerry and Julie Folse
* 1 pound ground chuck
* 1 pound ground pork
* 6 eggs
* 1 cup minced onions
* 1 cup minced celery
* 1/4 cup chopped basil
* 13/4 cups Italian bread crumbs
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 2 tbsps salt
* 2 tbsps black pepper
* 3 quarts chicken broth
* 4 cups thinly sliced escarole (or spinach)
* 11/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
* 2/3 cup finely diced carrots


In a large bowl, combine ground pork and ground chuck.
Use hands to mix well.
Add eggs, onions, garlic, celery, basil, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Again using hands, mix well.
Add salt and pepper.
Wet hands, and roll mixture into golf ball size meatballs.
Place the rolled meatballs on a cookie sheet and set aside.
John recommends flattening one of the meatballs and
grilling in a little olive oil to test for seasoning.
Seasoning can be adjusted if needed.

In a large saucepan, heat chicken broth to a boil.
Add meatballs and reduce to a slow boil.
After 30 minutes, stir in escarole
(if you can't find escarole, fresh spinach is a good substitute),
chopped carrots, and orzo pasta.
Cook on slow boil for about 15 minutes more or until pasta is al dente.
Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
Serve in soup bowl with a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Italian Wedding Soup Version 4 from wineloverspage*

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

For the meatballs
1 slice good white bread, crust removed
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
Large clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces (180g) ground veal (or other ground meat or poultry)
Yolk of one egg
Black pepper

For the soup
4 cups (1 scant liter) chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
2 ounces orzo or other small soup pasta
Small bunch fresh spinach (or escarole or curly endive)
1 egg
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
2 tablespoons (30g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Black pepper


1. First, make the meatballs.
Trim the bread crust and cut or tear the bread into small pieces.
Put the bread in a shallow bowl and pour the milk over it.
Let it sit for five or 10 minutes, then lift out the bread.
It will have absorbed most of the milk, but if any is left over, discard it.

2. While the bread is soaking,
peel and mince the garlic and cook it in the olive oil over medium heat
until it's translucent but not brown.

3. Put the moistened bread in a bowl with the ground veal,
garlic and oil, egg yolk, a little grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste,
and gently mix them together with a fork, taking care not to over-handle.
The less you have to mash the veal, the lighter the meatballs will be.
Divide this mixture into 12 roughly equal parts and form them into a dozen small meatballs.

4. Bring the broth to a boil,
reduce to a gentle simmer and drop in the meatballs,
handling them gently so they don't break up.
Let them simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until they're just cooked through
(if you kept them light enough, they'll float when they're done);
then remove them from the broth with a slotted spoon and keep them warm.

5. Make the soup.
Turn the heat under the broth up to medium-high,
bringing it back to a boil.
Put in the orzo or other soup pasta and
cook it for 10 minutes or so or until al dente.

6. Chop or tear the spinach or greens into smallish pieces.
Toward the end of cooking, reduce heat to low,
put in the greens and return the meatballs to the soup,
and cook just until the greens are wilted and the meatballs warmed through.

7. Break the egg into a small bowl, add the 1 tablespoon water,
and stir it briefly with a fork. Stir in the grated cheese.
Give the soup a good quick stir, then pour in the egg-cheese mixture,
a little at a time, so the heat of the soup will quickly
cook it into tasty little scrambles.

Italian Wedding Soup Version 5

Italian Wedding Soup 10 Servings
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound ground turkey (or ground meat of choice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
spices: 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt

Mix everything together, and roll into 1″ balls. Saute in the olive oil until lightly browned on the outside. Set aside.

Soup ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cloves minced garlic
3 diced strips of turkey bacon (or regular bacon)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 cup orzo
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 fresh leaves of basil, chopped
3 cups of arugula
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano for garnish

Saute the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic
in large soup pot for 5 - 6 minutes.
Add the turkey bacon and the balsamic vinegar,
and let all the flavors mix and blend.
Add the Marsala and let this cook down a little.
When it is almost evaporated,
add the chicken stock, orzo, meatballs, and oregano.
Simmer this for about 15 minutes, til the orzo is soft.
Add the basil and arugula and cook for about 1 more minute.
Serve with a sprinkling of Parmigiano for garnish.



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