Growing up in the Midwest, I had never heard of Italian Wedding Soup until I moved to Boston in 1995. When I began work in the financial district a couple of years later, there was a small Italian take-out lunch spot in my building called J. Pace & Son (pronounced “pah-chay“). J. Pace offered excellent sandwiches, prepared pasta dishes, salads and soups. It was there that I first tried Italian Wedding Soup. The soup was truly a marriage of meatballs, escarole, tiny pasta (Acini di Pepe) and chicken broth.
Italian Wedding Soup is an Italian version of American chicken noodle soup or Jewish matzoh ball soup. They’re all truly comforting on cold chilly days and a penicillin for when you aren’t feeling well. Earlier this week I was feeling under the weather, chilled to the bone and the cold rain didn’t help. I needed a chicken soup of sorts. I visited my local butcher/gourmet shop and picked up a quart of their Italian Wedding Soup. Within 12 hours I consumed the whole quart and was beginning to mend, but I needed more. Yesterday, I googled Italian Wedding Soup recipes and found Giada De Laurentiis’ to suit my tastes. Today I visited my butcher to gather the ingredients.
There are a few things I did differently from Ms. De Laurentiis’ recipe – I used far less grated onion in the meatball mixture; added Acini di Pepe pasta, and didn’t include the egg/parmesan mixture to finish off the soup (sort of reminiscent of Chinese egg drop soup). I had plenty of leftover soup, which I divided into individual portions and froze. The next time I reheat the soup, I may be inclined to add in the egg at the end.
This is an easy, quick, clean and delicious (and healing) soup. I’ve adapted the ingredients and method below. Here is the link to Ms. De Laurentiis’ original recipe.
Italian Wedding Soup (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Italian Wedding Soup, Food Network). If you plan to freeze a portion of the soup, it is best to portion it off before adding the pasta. When you reheat the frozen soup, cook a small portion of pasta and add it to the soup as you reheat it.
Time saving tip: Just before you form the meatballs, boil the water for the pasta (and begin cooking it) and heat up the chicken stock. I list them as separate steps below.
Serves 8; Prep time 20 minutes; Cook time 20 minutes
- 1/4 cup onion, grated and drained (not chopped)
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed, and diced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 8 ounces (1/2 lb.) ground beef
- 8 ounces (1/2 lb.) ground pork
- 1 to 2 cups dry Acini di Pepe pasta (DeCecco)
- 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Swanson’s Natural Goodness 33% less sodium)
- 1 pound escarole, outer leaves removed, stems trimmed and triple washed in cold water.
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
- Gently combine the onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, bread cubes and Parmesan together with a fork.
- Add the beef and pork, using your hands to gently incorporate the ingredients together.
- Shape the meat mixture into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-diameter meatballs. (I ended up with close to 100 meatballs.) Place on plate or baking sheet.
For the soup:
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for two minutes less than package instructions for al dente pasta (about 7 minutes). Drain and set aside.
- In a separate large pot, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat and add the meatballs, one by one. As the first meatball rises to the top, add escarole and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the escarole is tender, about 4 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the soup and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
- Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.